Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Final Update

Sadly, after a long illness Shirley passed away peacefully on 6 November. The funeral will be next week.

The blog will remain open to comments until the end of the month after which it will be closed to new comments. It will remain online for the foreseeable future as a reference. The family wish to thank everyone who has posted their kind comments on her blog to date.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Keeping Going....

Hello Everyone.

Mum is in hospital at the moment and is being assessed for Care needs.  I don't really know how to do this stuff, so no more will be posted for a while. 

May I thank you all in advance of your kind thoughts and words, which I do know will be forthcoming  . . . .An update will be done as and when.  Sue ( Eldest Daughter ) Sunday 31 May 2015

No sign yet of the cellulitis clearing up.  They say it is now at the 'superficial' stage, but this does cause me more pain.   Today they have decided that a nurse should come in twice a day (morning and night) to dress my less otherwise I'm lying on very wet sheets by the morning, due to my leg dripping moisture out by the gallon.

The gardener is here today, and am having home helpers twice a week, so plenty of people around. And guess what!!!  The local organiser for the latter is the cousin of Jack Monroe - small world isn't it?

As ever, thanks for all the comments sent in.  The 'helper' starts this Friday, so will write more about that once we've established a routine. Am not in need of a carer who comes in at a set time each day as I never do know when I need help when it comes to health.  For instance I was up at 3.30am the past two nights due to needing to sit elsewhere other than in my bed.   Another night I might sleep right through until 7.00am and would not wish to be woken. 

Several of the nurses are men - that I have to say makes a change and since the first flare-up or bad arthritis in my knee (helped by steroid injections), it's been one thing after another for a year now.  Lets hope I'm due for a bit of respite from all the aches and pains. 
Having different people in the house to chat to will probably help.  It's no fun being alone all day with only the four walls for company and am determined to get out and about as soon as I can move comfortably.   Even sitting down in an easy chair is now turning out to be a bit painful.   Things could be worse |I have to tell myself. 

I'll try and pop in for a blog-chat as often as I can, can't promise when,  a few words are better than none at all.  Bear with me, as I'm determined to return to normal as soon as I can.  Knowing you are there cheering me on from the side-lines is a great help. 

Dismal weather we've been having recently, despite the sun, we've had strong winds and it has been quite cold (at least here in Morecambe).  Have yet to sit outside in the sun.   Summer will be over before it gets warm enough.

That's it for today, make the most of any good weather you may be lucky to have.  I notice dawn is very nearly breaking about 4.30am, do midsummer is not too far away. And then we have to begin thinking about Christmas!  Doesn't time fly?  TTFN

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Quick chat....

As I'm sitting by the comp (as needed to use the land line phone rather than mobile - cheaper!) thought I'd read comments and write a short blog.

Have given in to pressure from family and nurses and today am meeting up with someone who can tell me more about having a carer.  In actuality, the only time I do need help is a time when I might have problems re getting up/falling etc.  Can't put a set time on that one, and even if I had one of those things round my neck to phone for help, they would phone my next of kin (daughter in Lancaster) first, and it this I would try to avoid - she has a lot on her plate without my pinch of salt being the last straw.    Will just have to wait and see what can be arranged with carers.

Am going to try to have more friends round just to have someone to chat to (plus home-made cake and biscuits etc.)  Problem has recently been I never know what time the district nurses will come, usually morning but sometimes afternoon, and as they can be here for at least 30 mins this messes up visits from friends.

As ever, thanks so much for the comments that have been sent in.  Our front garden is now looking good with all the bluebells, the Acer in the back garden a lovely copper colour.  A lovely time of year. Just wish I could get out into the garden and sit in the sun.   The cellulitis is just above and also below the back of my left knee, what they call 'superficial' now, but exposed nerve endings mean any movement/walking is so painful that I try to avoid it.

Doctor visited me yesterday, am never going to be the healthy girl I once was. But at my age what else can I expect?  She forgot to give me a new prescription (for pills she had taken off the repeat 'scrip in case different ones were needed, but the blood test showed I can still use the same ) so I've had to get that sorted before this weekend or I'll have run out.  Our local pharmacy will collect the prescription tomorrow from one of the many surgeries in our group and deliver them to my home.  So that's sorted.

Life is getting to be a bit of a bore, other times I'm either on a high or in deep depression. Just need something to get me interested again.   Was going to start painting this afternoon, but of course now the 'carer' is coming I need to be free to chat to her.  When I paint I need to continue all day if poss, any distraction breaks my concentration.   It will all get sorted - eventually. 

At least managed to bake myself a couple of small loaves of bread this morning. Started early so that the nurse wouldn't overlap the baking time.  Out of the oven 15 minutes before she came - thank goodness. Much prefer home-made bread, shop bread makes me very bloated. 

Watched Greg Wallace involved with the commercial side of bread-making, from wheat to assorted flours onto making the rolls then loaves of bread.    Also saw a bit about chocolate - think it was Kit-Kat they ended up with.  Some good foodie progs on at the moment although I tend to nod when not that interesting. 

Carer-for-a-chat coming in half an hour so had better get myself prepared  and see if we can come to some arrangement that will please everyone.  The cost does not bother me - I have been allowed a good attendance allowance that will be more than enough for the small amount of 'care' needed.

Will blog again a.s.a.p. so watch this space.... TTFN.. 

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Better Late Than Never...

Perhaps I make too many mountains out of molehills, but since I last blogged, one thing after another has brought me to almost desperation.   I sprained my back trying to do something, that lasted for several days, so couldn't lift one leg onto the bed to sloep properly, ended up sleeping (or not sleeping) in a chair for two nights.  Mattress provided for me but it was softer than my own original also thinner.  However, first night used I woke with no pain, just a bit of stiffness in my back and was so thrilled.  Discovered then all the grab handles on chairs, bed etc were now too high (because mattress was now lower), and just could not lift myself off the bed to stand and use one of my walking frames.   However much I tried I was stuck sitting on the side of the bed and the constant attempts to try and get up one way or another set my back hurting again.  In the end my daughter had to call the medics (arrived within five minutes) to give me assistance - which they did.  They also prescribed Codeine as a pain-killer along with paracetamol - helps a bit, but we have now put back the new mattress and altered the height of the necessary handles, and am able to lift myself off the bed, stand, and hold onto a walking frame and move around the apartment, slowly, very slowly, but it should get better soon.

The cellulitis is healing, but got to the stage of just surface soreness (with a lot of water leaking out)
and very, very sore it is), due to the nerve endings being exposed. "Like shingles?" I asked.  "Yes, but it isn't shingles"nurse replied. "Bet you that when my cellulitis has cleared up, then I will get shingles" I said (because that's how my health is these days, one thing after another with no respite inbetween!!_

Thanks to all who sent in comments, so many and only three am replying to (sorry about that).
If not too late, my suggestion Marjorie, for meat pies that can be eaten in the hand would be Cornish Pasties or Bedforshire Clangers.

No, I don't watch You Tube Marjie.  The only use I make of this comp is for writing my blog./

One of my daughter's friends was made quite ill by drinking untreated cow's milk at a farm where she worked Cheesepare, and when we used to stay in a caravan on a friend's dairy farm the farmers themselves were not allowed to drink the milk produced until it was treated - this some thirty or so years ago, but am sure now that rules have changed, and milk would not be sold now unless it was fit for use.  Maybe just a few people cannot tolerate really 'fresh' milk.

As my health is up one day, down the next (for several days) I'll be blogging when able to get to the comp.  This afternoon my daughter and I played Canasta in this, our dining (and comp room) so I decided to stay in here and take advantage of being close to the comp to catch up with emails and blog comments.  Moving out of here into the sitting room/bedroom will be much more of an effort.;

This being a Bank Holiday weekend, Morecambe has two days of Carnival,. the weather is cool, a bit windy, and has stayed fairly dry with some sunshine, so hoping visitors/trippers will enjoy all that has been arranged for them. 

Probably have another early night tonight, and able to move around with a bit more ease tomorrow. Best not rely on that, expect the worse and with any luck it won't happen. I used to be a very positive person, now I'm turning into a very Grumpy Old Woman and really beginning to hate myself for it.

Hope you all have a lovely restful Bank Holiday.  TTFN.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Am grabbing an hour before Gill calls me, then have to hope the district nurse does not come while I'm on the phone. 
My cellulitis began to improve, but I have very bad and very sore weeping cellulitis just above one knee on one leg (the other one has cleared up).  Anti-bs helped but have not controlled the worst, so they are now checking to find out the best anti-bs that should clear it up.  I may have to take them intravenously (at home).  Should hear any day now what is to happen.  
The nurse now comes every day to dress the wound (difficult position for me to deal with although I can put extra dressings on if needs be - but they keep falling off!!

In myself I feel fine, the painful leg is just slowing me down as it is very sore when I walk around but am doing as much as I can.  This weekend some of the family visited again and - bless their hearts - they did a marathon furniture move and de-clutter so our home looks a lot more respectable.

It's only a few days since I last looked through the back windows and within a week the bare Acer is now covered with copper-coloured leaves and looks very attractive.   The gardener came last week and made a grand job of tidying some of the front garden (mowing the lawn, removing weeds, digging a flower bed, also mowing the back lawn.  

Yesterday we had rain for the first time for what seems like weeks, and it has turned much colder.  I noticed we had frost last night, so maybe our late April 'heat-wave' we have now had.

Not been watching much TV recently, but did see the final of MasterChef where all three finalists were good enough to be the winner, although the one who did win (and what a nice lad/man he was) was the worthy one.  The standard was amazingly high. 

Many thanks for all your comments, and apologies for not replying to each one individually as I would normally do.  Once my leg is cured (and let us hope that will be soon) I should be able to write my blog in my usual way.  

There is one comment I wish to reply to - this from Cheesepare.  His way of making fishcakes using Paxo stuffing as a coating is well worth trying. Not yet done it myself but will when I get back on track.
As to his query of basic ingredients that go well together.  First things that come to my mind are cabbage (white, shredded, steamed) eaten with crispy bacon.   Am also fond of Cauliflower Cheese also with crispy bacon. Or Macaroni Cheese with crispy bacon.
As you can tell I do love crispy bacon.  Trouble is it is salty and I'm not supposed to have any salt due to my water retention probs, so rarely have it these days - have to just remember how good it tastes.

Lentils go well with canned tomatoes (as a soup), and if I'm wishing to extend a spag.bol meat sauce I will cook lentils in with the meat, or instead use porridge oats - these will also absorb extra liquid if there is too much.

Split peas go well with ham, especially if dried yellow split peas are cooked in ham stock (it is possible to buy ham stock cubes).  One of my favourite canned soups is Pea and Ham, although this is a green colour so perhaps dried green peas (marrowfat?) were used instead of the yellow. 

There is a lovely and very fat pigeon sitting on the fence close to this window.  Looks like a wild one (not from a nearby loft). It has white under-belly that changes to a flushed rose-pink closer to its head.  A white band round the back of its head, wrapping almost round to the underside, and the feathers are grey. As I look at it all I can think of is "how many would it serve if made into a meal?" My excuse for that is my instinct to revert to the ancient genes that must still become active under certain circumstances, when people used to eat what was there to be eaten - self sufficiency at top level I suppose.  For those who are concerned - the pigeon has flown away so safe for another day.

As fishcakes have had a mention, am giving yet another recipe for these that uses smoked trout. Yes, I know not the cheapest of fish, but any smoked fish will do (smoked mackerel, smoked salmon, smoked haddock, even the canned variety). Or choose whatever fish you wish.
If you wish to make a cheaper version used canned new potatoes (already cooked) and pilchards. If you don't care for horseradish, use tartare sauce.

Smoked Trout Fish Cakes with Mushy Peas: serves 4
1lb 5oz (800g) potatoes, diced
2 tblsp hot (or milder) horseradish sauce
7 oz (200g) smoked trout fillets, flaked
zest and juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper
1 oz\(25g) plain flour
14oz (400g) frozen peas
4 fl oz (100ml) hot vegetable stock
1 tblsp sunflower oil
Cook the potatoes in boiling water until tender, drain really well, then return to the pan and steam-dry for a few minutes longer.  Remove from heat, add the horseradish and mash well together.
Stir in the trout, lemon zest and half the lemon juice, plus seasoning to taste.
Make 8 patties (fish czkes), dust lightly with flour, then chill for up to 2 day or freeze for one month. Defrost completely in the fridge before cooking.
Boil the peas in the stock, simmering for 3 minutes  then pour into a food processor/blender and give a 30 second whizz or until crushed.  Tip back into the pan, add remaining lemon juice with seasoning to taste, cool and chill for up to 2 days.
Heat oil in a frying pan until hot and cook the fish cakes for 3 - 4 minutes on each side until golden and crisp, do this in batches if necessary keeping the cooked ones warm.  Serve with reheated mushy peas.

Normally, the simplest fish cakes are made with equal amounts of mashed potato and cooked fish, plus some chopped parsley and seasoning.  The above recipe uses a lot more potato than it does smoked trout so should not work out too expensive.  If you have oddments of fish (as with fish pie mix) no reason not to use equal portions (or less) of that with the potato.

Although the peas are best cooked in vegetable stock,  it is possible to buy fish-stock cubes that are useful when wishing to make a fish-dish (such as fish soup, chowder, fish risotto etc), and although I ALWAYS make my own chicken and beef stock, I do occasionally buy ham-flavoured, llamb-flavoured, fish-flavoured, and veg. flavoured stock cubes, many of these now sold with a lower-salt content.

Time for me to go.  Hope to be back with you a.s.a.p.  TTFN.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Catching Up Again...!

Seems ages since my last blog, but these past weeks have been diffficult with my cellulitis flaring up again.  Now have to have the nurses visit every day and occasionally a doctor to prescribe more anti-bs.  Let us hope the new ones (delivered today) will work, if not it may have to be hospital for intravenous drips or I could have these at home (prefer home).  Otherwise I feel well enough in myself.

As you can tell, I've not really been feeling like blogging, although I do miss our almost daily get together.

With the help of some of the family last weekend, we (well I watched) move furniture around, loads of rubbish taken to the tip, moved the huge table from the conservatory to the living room (where the table now looks quite small), so now I have a 'sun-room' to sit in.
The gardener started work yesterday and got quite a lot done in two hours, if the weather stays fine (drizzle doesn't matter), he will be back again next week for a couple of hours.

Despite my believe I had lifted all spring bulbs from the containers (and never got a chance to replant this autumn) have seen a few daffs and tulips nodding their heads to me as I gaze out of the back windows, so they are good to see.

Haven't even watched much TV and completely gone off watching 'Little House....' due to the 'true story of Laura Ingalls Wilder', not quite sure which to believe, they are both so different.  The Ingalls family seemed to have lived in Iowa, Kansas, Dakota, and other places, with no mention of Walnut Grove that I believed was in Minnesota (no mention of that either).
However the other day did watch 'Highway to Heaven' where Mr.Oleson (mercantile at Walnut Grove) played the part of a doctor.  Seems that Michael Landon uses a lot of the Little House actors in the 'Highway....' series.

Good foodie progs on TV last week, the '90's in Back Home for Dinner, and this week the last of the series with a look to the future where we will probably be eating worms and locusts!!!

After last week's episode there was an excellent prog again about food although I missed some of it due to texting.  One very interesting thing is that if we lay out mushrooms (normally grown in the dark so get no sun anyway) in a single layer in full sun (indoors or out) and leave them for one hour, they will absorb a lot of Vit. D.   Even when returning them to their bag/punnet in the freezer, they still retain this vitamin.
Also that given the choice of three drinks to have after extreme exertion (two hours cycling), to prevent dehydration, the drinks being: water, sports drink, milk.... everyone chose the water (as I did), but apparently milk is the very best as it has other things (electrolytes) that our body needs.

In 'Jimmy's Food Unwrapped' and interesting bit about bottled mineral water.  Apparently the south-eastern side of this country has a lot of calcium in tap water, more than we need (the west doesn't have enough), and as far as I understood, bottled (?) mineral water is fairly well balanced although not all are the same.   My preference is Highland Spring Water.

Another beautiful day, still a bit chilly at night (frost in some areas), but the usual 'end of April' sunshine that we have been having for the past few years although then the temperature was a lot higher.  We are told it will become colder again this weekend with the chance of showers (we need them to water the garden).    The pear blossom is just coming out, but as close to our garage that reflects back the heat it gains during the day, the pear tree should be free of frost.  Not that I care much at the moment.  I just want my leg to get better.

Have to now phone the surgery to get the results of my blood test - that took four goes - two in each elbow crease with nothing to show for it (veins collapsed - but then they always do).  Must be blood there as I have huge black bruised where the attempts were), eventually (after three days a specialist nurse came and took blood from the back of my hand (hurt more but not a lot) - and successfully this time.  Let us hope this does not give more bad news.

As I never know what time the district nurses will arrive, usually I won't blog until they have been, so as Thursday afternoon my daughter will be here, my neighbour on Friday, family again on Saturday, not sure if I will be blogging before next week - could be I will end up in hospital, but if a big delay again I will let Eileen know so she can keep you informed.   Back as soon as possible of course, and many thanks to all of you who have sent in comments. xx  TTFN


Tuesday, April 07, 2015

\It Was Ever Thus....!

Goes without saying that as soon as I get over one thing, something else hits me.  This time I have a flare up of cellulitis in both legs.  District Nurse comes each day. House call from doctor prescribed penicillin that didn't work, so when it got to Good Friday the emergency doctor (via a phone link) prescribed strong anti-b's but the only pharmacy open that had these was in Lancaster, closing at 1.00am.
Prescription faxed through, daughter went to fetch them, pharmacy closed.  They had given the wrong address.  To cut a long story short and lots of phone calls, daughter managed to trace the correct place but they didn't have enough pills, so she brought what they had and will have to return to get the rest today/tomorrow.

New pills seem to be holding the cellulitis at bay, but I'm uncertain as to whether I need even stronger dose, but will leave it in the good hands of the nurse etc.  otherwise I feel quite well.

Much of the time I have to rest in bed so that I can keep my feet elevated, so will refrain from blogging/checking emails etc until there is a definite improvement.

Yesterday did manage to watch the biopic of Laura Ingalls Wilder (Life after the Prairie...) and have to say there was very little in it that matched what I'd been seeing in the 'Little House..... series.  In fact the winter weather was so bad the Ingalls family used to close up their home and move to the very small township (no mention of Walnut Grove) to a wooden hut to live until the weather improved. The 'mercantile' (if that is what it was called) was not owned by the Olsens, and as for Pa (Charles Ingalls) he really didn't seem as nice a man as he was in the series.

Anyway, time for me to go and put my feet up and wait for the nurse to come and check my legs, what happens next is in the hands of fate.  Hope to be back blogging sooner than later.
Perhaps we were meant to see the bad side of Laura's life in the biopic.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tuesday Tittle-tattle....

Just popping in while I remember what I did with the microwave chips.

The other day fancied eating some chips, the only ones in the freezer were 'oven chips', so I heated a box of these.  Despite following directions to the letter, the chips still ended up what I call 'soggy', so decided to heat up some more (not many in a box anyway).  This time I tried heating them up in a pre-heated dry frying pan, oil already covering the chips, and although it took longer than in the microwave, I did end up with a lovely crispy surface to the spuds, with the innards nice and soft.

So - even though the box tells us the contents should ONLY be microwaved, seems that we can improve on the result.  I did some more yesterday, serving them with Tesco's Vegetarian Lincolnshire Sausages.  There should have been 6 sausages in the pack but there was an extra one!!!  Cooked the lot for half their time (12 minutes total, 6 mins half-time),  then added a pack of crinkle-cut microwave chips.  When the sausages were cooked, I removed them from the pan, raised the heat to full and gave the chips and extra couple of minutes to really crisp the surface.  Worked well.

The above veggie sausages - I find - taste more 'meaty' when left to eat cold after cooking.  Or eaten hot with a good meaty (and onion) gravy.  Am partial to pork sausages, but they are not the healthiest of foods, so recently have been buying the veggie sort, and only the Lincolnshire variety of these seem to suit my palate, perhaps it is the herbs in them (preferring Tesco's rather than any other brand).

After several good days of sunshine, but still quite cold, we've had some pretty unpleasant weather.  Did not see any snow in our area (when do we?), but it has been very wet and windy, reminding me of a narrow-boat holiday that we (plus three others from family/friends) took about 15 years ago.  It was at the very end of April - the last week being a scorcher, so we didn't take warm clothes, other than jackets. 
Once on the boat, after a night's sleep we woke to a change in the weather.  It had turned very cold indeed and was actually SNOWING.  So we spent most of the week huddled inside the boat, sharing the couple of heavy jackets that we had taken when it was time to open the locks, or drive the boat.

As we slowly drifted (4mph max speed allowed on the canals) along, we could see loads of tiny lambs leaping around, also great clumps of primroses along the banks, and one wonder and huge bluebell wood in full flower towards the end of the week (it then being first week in May this was the time to see bluebells). 
A few years later it seems we can never be quite sure what will be in flower at the right time. 

Am managing to keep sorting out my larder and have also cleared space in one of the freezers, and don't intend refilling the gaps with anything but milk (or water), so that I have space when needed.  So things are slowly getting better and once something is cleared up it now tends to stay cleared. In the old days I used to wish it could stay tidy, but my Beloved said it felt more like home when he could leave his stuff where it fell, so now I would give anything to go back.

Thanks for your comments. The Remoska does sound good T.Mills, although wonder if it is worth me getting one, as am not so short of money that I need to save fuel. Will have a think about it.

Several of you have commented/enjoy the series 'Back in Time for Dinner', but have to say that even considering how limited the variety of foods in the early decades of that series, we didn't seem to feel deprived, isn't there a saying something like 'what you never have, you never miss'?
Also, Granny G. myself feel that our now over-abundance (foods from all over the world) could give us that 'truly blessed' feeling, but myself (and I'm probably alone in this) feel we have far too much variety, and this in itself causes us to buy more food than we really need (to keep us healthy).  Yes, it was a struggle in war-time and right up until 50's when rationing ceased, but if anything, it made us think more about nutrition and what dishes could be made from simple basic ingredients.   But then we 'ate to live' not as today 'live to eat', so meals were not given so much importance as they are today and we had to clear our plates whether we liked the food or not. 

Today it seems everyone wants to eat a meal that is a favourite, and often the cook (usually a working mother) provides different meals or foods for each member of the family (for one won't like this, another won't eat that) and solves the problem by buying the ready-prepared - that costs more and not always good for us. 
Naturally I am old enough to remember how it was, and how it still could be, but will anyone listen?  Take the easy way is today's motto.

Having mislaid my tin-opener Kathryn, I'm having to resort to an older one, but not as old as the one shown in the above series.  Having one of these years ago can confirm they did work well.   Now I've become even lazier and always moan if I get cans delivered that don't have ring-pulls.  Not that these always work, all too often they snap off and I have to struggle to open the can using a tin-opener again, often difficult if the tin is not round (like Spam!!!).

Think many homes bought their first fridge in the early 60's like yourself Jane.  Ours was quite tall, retro style, and it was still working well, as was our chest freezer (bought 1969) when B decided to dump them both and buy an American style fridge/freezer to take their place.  Haven't really forgiven him for that (it was on offer, and he could never resist and offer), but it turned out the freezer capacity was quite small, although the fridge size was large.  B 'thought' the freezer part was large, but he had forgotten it housed all the 'working's for both sides.l   In the end had to buy a four-drawer front-loading smaller freezer to take the surplus frozen food.

Still, with only the two of us, didn't really need too much freezer space, and it was only because of the catering for the various clubs and charities I used to do that I needed the shelf-space.  Now - on my own - doing less cooking for others, I suppose I could manage with just Boris (the name given to our US fridge-freezer).

When we lived in Leeds, our next-door neighbour used to run a B & B and often bought catering packs of mixes (scone, cake, pastry mix, custard, bread etc), she sometimes gave me some to try.  Have to say the majority of them tasted more of the 'additives' (raising agents....) than if home-made, but they were easy to use, all needing nothing but added water.

Once or twice I would buy a cake-mix from the supermarket.  Usually a Betty Crocker one for Brownies, chocolate cake etc.  These needed liquid adding, which included an egg.  Apparently the mixes could include dried egg, but the manufacturers felt that if the housewife added an egg she could then say the cake was home-made.  Amazing how we can fool ourselves at times.

Nowadays I believe cake-mixes (including scone mix, pizza mix, pastry mix, cookie mix......) are much improved, so when time is short no doubt if I was a busy mum I would use one, but have to say the last time must have been over 30 years ago, and then mainly 'for research purposes' (a true reason but still an excuse).

An interesting two page feature about Mary Berry in last Saturday's Daily Mail.  Don't know why, but I expected her to be an ordinary mum, with maybe a cleaner once or twice a week.  Seems she has quite a large staff, but then her work-load has increased dramatically over the last years (mainly due to '....Bake Off', so although not at all jealous, am truly envious of her life-style and what she has done in her life.  She and I are not that far apart in age either. Makes me feel ashamed of myself.  All power to her elbow I say.

That's it for today. As I write there is a man fitting a much larger step and grab rail by our back door so that I can leave the house safely (without slipping/falling).  Of course he came to the front door, and by the time I had reached that had walked round to the back door.  Takes me ages to get from one to the other, even using my zimmer frame.  He doesn't need me to oversee what he is doing, so I've left the door locked and asked him to get on with it.

That's it for today, visitor tomorrow and Friday, and not sure about Thursday, so it might be the weekend (is that Easter?) before I'm blogging again.  As usual, ask you to 'watch this space'.  TTFN.


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Saturday Catchup

It's been several days since my last blog, and for this I apologise.  It's been an odd sort of week, firstly I needed to take time off to get over the previous week's marathon dessert cooking, then had several visitors drop in, and also wanted to spend time watching TV various progs re King Richard III.  

Add to that sorting out the kitchen/larder and I've had a really busy week.  Of course I did watch other TV progs, as do like to see the repeats of those 'oldies' during the afternoon ("Three Up, Two Down", and "Hi-di-hi" (plus the soaps and the 30th anniversary prog of Neighbours).

What IS annoying me is that this last week they showed several progs of Hi-di-Hi out of sequence, so the story-line was mixed up, we knew what happened before it should have done if you know what I mean.   "Three Up...." seems to have finished to be replaced by "Are you Being Served" (another old favourite).

Not everyone watched our UK soaps, but am wondering if those that do are as much annoyed as I am by the way that many of the characters in both EastEnders and Corrie have a habit of not looking directly at the person they are talking to, but sit there with their eyes slid into the corners.  I don't think I've seen Shabnam (EastEnders) look at anyone straight on. Her 'father' (Masood) does the same. Liz MacDonald in Corrie almost always has her eyes stuck in the corners of her eye sockets.    Other actors seem to manage to look straight at each other, so am wondering if (like Terry Savalas/Kojak) they are reading from a script placed behind the ear of the person they are supposed to be speaking to.   If memory is bad, this occasionally happens.   Trouble is, I'm now watching eyes and not taking much notice of what is said any more.

Apparently not as many people turned up at the Opening of the Club a week ago, despite posh invitations being sent with RSVP  (many ignored responding), so there was quite a lot of food left apparently, but according to my daughter (who did go), most of my desserts were eaten, with no wastage as remainders were kept chilled and then frozen.  But I could have made two less which would have eased the week for me.

Thanks to those who wrote in re the chimineas.  We have a large garage (one end was kept for B's handy work), so a chiminea could be kept in there during the winter. 
Interesting to know about the cottonwool/Vaseline used as firelighters Kathryn. When I visited another of our daughters (in Ireland) there were only blocks of peat to start the open fire in the living area of the rented cottage (next door to daughter), and it wouldn't light unless it had kindling burning underneath, so I tried pouring a little (left-over) cooking oil in a tray and standing peat blocks in this to soak up a bit of oil, then later set fire to the 'oily' side, and it worked like a charm.

When in Leeds I used to save the very last bit of candle wax in those little tea-lights (originally used for heating trays on the dining room table), and then either melt the wax and pour it over dampish logs, or just throw a pile of the lights onto the fire along with dried orange peel and these too worked like fire-lighters.

What type of stove do you use in Canada Marjorie?  We do have multi-fuel ones here or log burners, but tend to use an AGA for cooking, or Rayburn (similar but also heats water) based in the kitchen. 
When watching old films, the North American type of stove is often called a 'pot-bellied', probably used for heating with a round disc on top that can be removed (or not) on which to place a cooking pot (boil or simmer).   I'd love a stove, suppose could have one fitted in here (our only usable chimney), but don't think it would work for cooking as this is our wood-panelled dining room (fireplace has marble surround, this in turn framed by a Gillow's mantelpiece).

Reading about chiminea on the Internet, it seemed that home-made 'fuel' could be used, and the suggestion was blocks made from compressed wet paper (then left to dry), but could also be made from dry paper. 
Do let us know how you get on with the Dressage on 4th April.  Am sure Dolly will do you proud Kathryn.  The one thing I used to HATE doing was continually having to clean the tack after each use. Surely all that polish rubbed in would last more than one outing?

A comment from an Anonymous mentioned cooking a whole chicken in a Dutch Oven on the hob, and I can believe it would work well.  I was once given one of those, a huge and very heavy iron pot plus lid.  This was given to one of my bridge friends by her son, she didn't need it as it was too large (she lived alone), so gave it to me.   Several years later her son wanted it back, so she asked me to return it, and although I used it very often (and could have kept it - it was a gift) I did return it and how I miss it.

There is an appliance in the Lakeland catalogue (a regular item) I think called a Remoska.  Have been tempted to buy one in the past, and it would be useful  for me now, but do I need yet another pot?  It does seem that there is always something new that might be useful, halogen cookers for instance. But if I can still manage with my old stock, then why spend more?
I've recently seen a gadget/appliance that is electric and makes 'spaghetti' from vegetables, yet in one of my drawers (I have yet to find it, but did see it a month or so ago) a little plastic thing that you screw into a veggie (carrot etc) and it comes out with thin spaghetti-like strips.  No difference in the end result between the very expensive and the very cheap. 

Am enjoying those progs that show us how we cooked during the last 50 years, decade by decade. This last week think they were working their way through the 60's and were making up abd serving the Vesta (beef curry, chow mein.....) range.  Don't think they enjoyed eating it though.  However, do believe it is still on sale, so by now must have been 'new improved'.

Black Forest Gateau was of that time, but have always found that it has never gone out of fashion, probably due to being liberally laced with kirsch syrup, and stuffed with cream and cherries.  Men in particular just LOVE chocolate cake, so when I make this cake it is always eaten up (often seconds and thirds requested).

Am surprised you didn't get to see much of the eclipse Cheesepare, apparently Cumbria had one of the best views, but even a few clouds in the wrong place and the right time can spoil the effect.  Thanks also for your views/use of a chiminea.    Whether I get one depends on my health during this year.  At the moment am thinking of employing a gardener to at least get the garden looking good - such a lot needs to be done, and if the garden is the only place I'll feel comfortable in 'outdoors', then it might as well look nice.   Have always to think of the future, and if the apartment/garden look their best, then it should make for a quicker sale.  'Upstairs' flat has been for sale two year and no-one wants it 'because it hasn't a garden', so having a garden is a bonus.
Considering the flat above us has been reduced in price (a lot) several times (they wanted to move as after a few years here they expected a baby - which is now old enough to talk and run around, not that we used to hear anything as we have sound insulation), am surprised it's not been snapped up.  Well worth the money.  Yet two huge hotels have been closed near to where we live, pulled down and flats built instead (at twice the price of the one above us), to me this doesn't make sense.  The 'new' flats have smaller rooms, further away from the shops..... we are very close to a great shopping parade AND a small railway 'halt' (between Lancaster and Morecambe), plus a lovely park (with bandstand and the prom at the bottom of the main road through what is like living in a village with all amenities.

And there is me, now stuck indoors with little chance at the moment of enjoying any of the above. But let us hope there will be an improvement.

At the moment have moved from kitchen to bedroom where I'm sorting out all B's clothes/books etc. After washing/ironing, many will go to charity shops/Sally Army etc, and am loath to get rid of any, but no point in keeping them.  Not enjoying this particular work in hand, but need to get it done as soon as possible.  This means this coming week I have no idea when I will be blogging, just have to hope I can grab an hour (or two) to bring it up to date.  As usual, expect me when you see me.

Tonight the hour goes forward, then Easter the following weekend.  You'll all be busy then enjoying your long weekend holiday break,, so doubt you will miss me if I don't blog.  But will be back. TTFN.



Monday, March 23, 2015

Monday Mutterings

Thought I'd better start the day with blogging as otherwise never get around to it.  It's been quite a seven days all told.   Have to say I've found great satisfaction in having a reason to cook (in bulk) again, and most of the time thoroughly enjoyed it, although by the time Saturday arrived I felt I'd done enough (but still had a lot to finish off).  In fact never left the kitchen from the time I got up (first usual ablutions etc), until the desserts were taken to the club - making 10 hours in all!!!

Surprisingly I stayed in bed until mid-day on Sunday, too exhausted to do anything else, this then led to an early night (for me) which in turn led to one of my (almost) sleepless nights, but today I feel a lot more energetic.

Haven't heard how the Grand Opening went, not even sure how many visitors were there.  First I was told to cater for 100, then some days later the numbers were said to be around 40, then was told it could be 100 after all.  On Friday I phoned and told they expected it to be 60, so I settled for 60 good portions that would feed 80 if necessary (my daughter was also taking a dessert so there should have been enough.

In the end I made 2 x Tiramasu, 1 x Sicilian Cassata, 2 x Black Forest Gateau (oblongs to make easy slicing), 1 large Tropical Fruit Cheesecake, and 1 big Fruit Flan (with strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries).  Each served at least 10 portions, some served 12-15.  My plan to male a Paris-Brest (or Banoffee Pie, or Treacle Tart) was shelved as there seemed no reason to do the extra work if the portions were not needed (my excuse).  By then I was too tired anyway.

As ever, there seemed a lot more washing up to be done than actual prep/cooking/assembly on the day. Thankfully most of the work (if not all the work) could be done sitting down.   However, it did prove to me that I can do it when I try, and so part of yesterday I spent sorting out the kitchen (again), and putting things like electric whisks in handier places (normally kept on a high shelf).  Today I will continue doing that, and probably the rest of the week until everything is in its rightful (useful to me) place, and cooking will become easier for me.  This didn't matter before, but does now.

As well as the cooking, last week (and yesterday) had other things of interest.  Such as the eclipse.  In Morecambe this turned out to be a damp squib as around 9.00am it was a sunny if somewhat hazy start to the day, then at 9.15 it began to get a bit darker as though there were rain clouds gathering, but in a very few minutes the sky lightened again and no way would anyone have thought there had been an eclipse, although (according to the TV news) some areas did go very dark.

Yesterday there was the procession of King Richard III through the streets of Leicester, and as many readers will know that was my adopted home town (although I was born in Coventry).  My mother was born and bred in Leicestershire, as was my Beloved, so I felt part of it, although deep down I felt the King should have been buried in York Minster or even Westminster Abbey, as were most of the medieval kings.  

There was a lot of controversy over King Richard III mainly with the help of William Shakespeare, and it was interesting to hear how at least one of the two princes in the tower was taken ill at the time of his supposed murder, a doctor being called, so he could have died 'naturally'.  In any case it was written that the two princes were bastards and couldn't claim the throne anyway, so why the need to kill them anyway?  Also that the King did more for his people in the few years he reigned (777 months I believe) than any other monarch during the same time-length after their coronation.  So he wasn't all bad, if bad at all. 

The basic recipe Margie for Tiramisu is to dip sponge fingers (sometimes called Boudoir biscuits), into strong coffee, then place the undipped (sugary) side down in a dish in a single layer.  Cover with whipped marscapone cheese and cream, slightly sweetened with icing sugar, and top with another layer of the fingers flavoured with Marsala, finishing with whipped cream and a topping of sifted cocoa.  Chill for several hours, pref overnight.

There are many variations, and although I normally start with the coffee, this time I dipped the sponge fingers in Limoncello, beating a little more of this liqueur into the marscapone along with some 'light' Philadelphia cream cheese.  Then topped with more biscuits, finishing as above with cream and cocoa.

Although not a traditional Tirimasu, as long as we use the Boudoir biscuits, layered with marscapone cheese/cream, we could use a different liqueur/spirit/wine, and probably the Internet would come up with some suggestions.   I tend to play it by ear.

Sorry to hear about your Dad having a fall Kathryn.  I've known quite a number of people (some elderly, some younger) who have had pacemakers fitted and they work brilliantly.  Add years to their life I'm sure.  However, it is a good idea to not have stairs to climb, so a ground-floor annexe for your Dad seems a good idea, also land outdoors that is easy to walk around (shallow steps etc).

Your herbal jellies and jams sound mouth watering, so this could be a way you could make a bit of pin-money.  Up on the hills overlooking the sea (about 20 miles from Morecambe) there is a wind-swept farm, mostly sheep roam around outside the stone walls, kept in the open fields nearby by cattle grids across roads.  Too windy for cattle I think. 
However, outside the farm-gate (the road/track runs close by) is a trestle table, and on this are jars of jellies, jams, eggs for sale.  People are trusted to help themselves and put the money in a box at the back of the table.   Perhaps it is because car-drivers who come to look at the spectacular views of the distant Bay) and the many walkers that are the people who pass by who are expected to be honest.

It's still quite cold, but with a high pressure area expected mid-week the signs are a rise in temperature from Wednesday, and am looking forward to warmer weather so that I can zimmer myself outside to sit in the sun for a while.  That would be bliss.
The hour goes forward next weekend, so I'll have to alter as many clocks as I can (B used to do this) and just remember the oven clock will be wrong by an hour (I don't know how to do this one).

Speaking of the oven.... Have realised that no longer can I use the larger top oven for heavy things (like roasting a chicken)  as it is too high for me to pull out the tins safely (B used to do it for me - how I miss all his help re these things).  But as I'm now on my own should find the lower (small) oven quite large enough for my own needs.   Just have to tray-bake things one at a time in that, rather than cooking three at a time in the oven above.   It could be worse.   Hardly use either oven anyway.

That's it for today, still lots of work to do and I want to continue working as hard as possible as each day I find I can do that little bit more without getting over-tired (as long as I take one day off a week).

One query. Those garden 'heaters' called chiminers (not the right name but am sure you know what I mean).  Am thinking about getting one and need to know if food (pizzas) etc can be cooked using them, and also whether I could use it to burn surplus paper, chicken bones,  twigs etc.  I've such a lot of rubbish that needs burning (B would normally take it to the tip), and far better to make use of the heat from the fire than burning it in a 'bonfire' cage.

What is the best size, and best material (do they do iron ones that won't crack in the frost although I could be protected in the winter I suppose).

Won't be blogging tomorrow as have visitor, so hope to return on Wednesday.  TTFN.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Wednesday Update

Just grabbing a few minutes as tomorrow I'll be busy, also Friday and Saturday, so it will be Sunday (or even Monday the next time I blog - unless of course I managed to get things done in rapid time).

It's amazing how much I'm able to do at the moment, think this is because life has become 'interesting' again, and it's a real pleasure to be able to cook for others.
Yesterday went to collect all the necessary alcohol to add to desserts (BFG has kirsch, Tiramisu has Limoncello, Sicilian Cassata has Cointreau...!!!), and found I had none of each.  Was able to find a recipe to make my own Limoncello using Vodka, sugar and lemons.  It worked well.  Needs keeping for a month before using, but as luck has it suddenly noticed some small jars (that once held  Colman's mustard) in which I had poured the last ml of the above missing liqueurs, so I have enough without having to buy any more, the home-made Limoncello is a bonus!

Need to make more sugar syrup tomorrow.  This I make by measuring (let's say) half a pint of caster sugar, putting it into a pan with the same measurement of water, then heat gently, swirling the pan from time to time (DO NOT STIR), until dissolved, then bring to the boil and boil for 3 - 4 minutes until syrupy.  Leave to cool then bottle in sterilised jars.  It keeps for ages in the larder.  A little will be mixed with the kirsch, and some also went into the Limoncello.

This morning baked a square chocolate cake for the BFG.  Didn't want it to rise too much, so baked it at 160C, then after 30 mins turned it down 20deg for a further 15 minutes.  It stayed flat, and tomorrow I will slice it in half horizontally so on Friday the halves can be drizzled with kirsch syrup before being sandwiched together with whipped cream and a can of cherry pie filling.  The top will also have cream, more cherries (the frozen ones thawed) and a scattering of grated chocolate.

Depending upon numbers (not yet known) I MAY fill a (bought) sponge base with custard/cream, top this with assorted berries (a row of strawberries, then a 'blue fruit' (cherries, or blueberries or blackberries) and alternate with rasperries and redcurrants.  Glaze top with QuickJel.  This will be made up on the day.  It really does look quite special and a good way to use up oddments of some soft fruits that are in the freezer, the QuickJel holds their shape and prevents them going soggy.

What an amazing lot of veggies you were able to buy for a relatively small amount of money jane. Carrots freeze very well when blanched and I used to cut them in various shapes, thin circles, batons, or cut diagonally - any shape you like.   Onions too freeze well when peeled and chopped.  If planning to eat them within a month they don't need blanching.

Jane also sent a comment, but I've made a note about making Limoncello under her name in my notebook and as I've already mentioned it above, no need to repeat it.

It's been another lovely day again today, but still cold outdoors despite the sun.  Heard on the news that there was an excellent display of Northern Lights last night, seen as far down the UK as the south coast with a special mention of Cumbria.  Hope that Cheesepare was able to see it.

That's it for today, I'll be back again as soon as I have the time.  Hope you get a chance to see the eclipse - me, I'll be too busy cooking!!!.  But like a lot of eclipses and at least one 'lights' once seen, I can say 'been there, done that'.  Don't need to see it again.   TTFN.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Spreading the Load

Am still feeling bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, so perhaps I've now turned the corner and life has some meaning again, due to having the making-of-the-desserts to look forward to. 

Yesterday I sat in the kitchen and sorted out all the ingredients that I would need. Stacked these on my double-tiered push-trolley, including the containers that would be used.
Even went so far as to grate a bar of chocolate (using my 'Y' shaped veggie peeler) to add to some of the desserts (or for decoration).    Today I will be making the chocolate sponge for the Black Forest Gateau.  Friday will be 'assembly day' for all desserts and these will remain in the fridge until taken to the club late Saturday afternoon.

So far jane, the chosen desserts are:  Tiramisu; Sicilian Cassata; Tropical Fruit Cheesecake; and Black Forest Gateau.  As there will be a lot of portions needed will probably make a Lemon and Ginger Treacle Tart as well.  Have to wait until Thursday/Friday for final numbers.  As the desserts are freshly made (not frozen), any surplus will freeze if kept chilled beforehand (they have big fridges at the club-house).

You made an interesting point jane when you mentioned discovering a lot of frozen food you had forgotten about.  You, like me, tend to hoard all types of food then use it up, but now I've been on my own for nearly 5 months now have bought very little, ending up using (or giving away) a lot of what I already have, and I haven't felt like re-stocking the shelves as I used to do.  Perhaps this is the best way - use what we have, save the money we MIGHT have spent, and then re-stock, but with less than formerly.  Or buy better quality. 

If we can (or should by now) be able to make really tasty meals that cost very little, using up 'what we have', then we really don't need as much food in store as we think we do.  This is completely contrary to my early days when I felt I needed to keep a good stock of almost everything (one in use, one in store ready and waiting, and four (or more) as back-up!!!! 

So I'm going to keep emptying my shelves and freezers until I have only the very basics (to me this means canned tuna, sardines, chopped and plum tomatoes, baked beans (incl Heinz 5 beans, and read kidney beans). Canned fruits.
In the fridge - vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, small potatoes, celery, cauliflower, white cabbage, vacuum beetroot, salads (lettuce, cucumber, radishes....), berries in season.  Cartons of fruit juice, milk and cheeses. UHT double cream and milk.
The freezer will have fish (smoked haddock, white fish, salmon, cooked prawns, smoked salmon, smoked mackerel), minced beef/lamb/pork and poultry (chicken portions). Also frozen veg such as peas, string beans, Brussels sprouts, sweetcorn, oven chips.
Onions and baking potatoes in bags in the kitchen.  Eggs and tomatoes also kept at room temp.
Fruit bowl holds easy-peel clementines, bananas, apples, and other fruits when in season (plums, peaches....) also avocados.

Larder 'dry goods' will be the usual plain/SR flour, bread mix etc, assorted sugars, syrup, treacle, honey, jellies, oats, and the usual dried fruits, dried grains etc. Various ketchups, chutneys and relishes and salad cream/mayo (in the fridge once opened), and probably a lot more I have at the moment but not planning to replace. 

That's how I intend my food stores to be in the future.  We will have to see if I can stick to it, and what I do with it when I've got it.  So watch this space!

A downstairs annex (with use of bathroom) sounds perfect Kathryn.  Until needed by your Dad (who might be living upstairs initially) it could be a 'holiday let' (or used for B & B)? 
Two thoughts came to mind when you mentioned the possibility of buying close to a wind farm.  Firstly this may keep the price low (who wants to live near one?) and - perhaps more importantly - wind farms are placed in known-to-be windy areas  (I am prejudiced because I hate wind) .  Not the best site to grow things, poly tunnels could blow over etc...and could be very chilly in the winter.

If the property was sited in a little valley surrounded by hills that had the wind farm on top, well that's a different matter, you would be sheltered.
In 'Escape to the Country' they seem to advise talking to residents in the area of choice to get the pros and cons re amenities, weather etc, so you would get a better idea of what could be grown, what the winters are like....  So when looking at property, aim for the local pub/post office and have a chat to who might be your neighbours.

As to island units in a kitchen Kathryn.  I've always wanted one, but would need a kitchen large enough to allow me plenty of room to walk round.  some of these units have a surface wide enough to fit stools under one side, so you can sit and eat as though it was a table.  Ordinary seats would be too low (a working surface is higher than a table top - unless you are a short person).  I use our kitchen table as a work surface, sitting in a normal chair, but then have to keep clearing the table to make room to serve a meal (unless taken into the dining room).  Perhaps you could build an extension to one end of the kitchen to use as a dining area if necessary.  I believe you don't need planning permission if the new area is under a certain size.

Have to get on and make by chocolate sponges.  Hope to be blogging tomorrow, all depends on what else I have to do.  Will be back a.s.a.p.  TTFN.


Monday, March 16, 2015

Week Begins...

Firstly, must apologise to Cherry Baby (to whom we give a big welcome), for not replying before Mother's Day.  I was tied up with visitors and being very tired on Saturday decided to wait until this week before I did my next blog, so did not see the request for brunch ideas until too late.  I feel very guilty for being so lax - I really should have checked the comments.  Will do so in future.

The price of pony carrots by the sack (referred to by Kathryn) is very much cheaper than the 'value' carrots (1.5kg) sold at Tesco, so always worth taking a look to see what we can buy in bulk, sharing with family, friends and neighbours if necessary. 

When I used to take my friend to Tesco's (in Leeds) we often shared food that we would normally both buy.  We would divide in half (if necessary) when I took her home and we sat and had coffee and prided ourselves on saving so much money doing this.  If there was a Bogof of bags of potatoes, one of us would get them, then we each would take a bag and pay back half price to the one who bought it.  Same with the very large veg such as whole white cabbage (cut in half), cauliflower (ditto), heads of celery, bags of value carrots/onions etc. Anything that was sold by the unit (rather than weight), so we chose the largest/heaviest and any Bogof we would normally use, and ended up quids in.

Thanks to Karen and Joitsie for their comments.  Yesterday I felt so much better (after weeks of not) and certainly well enough to go out, so my daughter took me for a drive.  Still finding it a bit difficult to walk, so although I did take the walking frame with me (and two walking sticks) decided to stay in the car, but thoroughly enjoyed the drive through the local countryside seeing all the crocus and daffs in full bloom.

This was the first time I'd been out of the house other than funeral, hospital, medical centre since late October last year, so this made it even more enjoyable.  We ate fish and chips in the car, followed by strawberry ice-cream. 
Today I again feel fairly 'with it', so able to deal with what needs to be done around the house.  I've just learned that the Sailing Club 'do' this next Saturday expect 100 visitors, so I'll be busy making lots and lots of desserts.  Thankfully, most of them can be made up to 2 days ahead as long as kept chilled (they improve with keeping).  Just keeping my fingers crossed I'll not get a 'relapse', and will be laying out all the dry ingredients ready to use, and keeping the others (together) chilled in the fridge so no need to rush around trying to find them when I am ready to assemble. 

This means that towards the end of the week inc Sat (the 'do' is during the evening), I'll probably be too busy to blog, as much of that day I'll be putting the final touches to the desserts. Should be able to catch up on Sunday.  Believe there is to be an eclipse of the sun on Friday, but this shouldn't stop me working in the kitchen.
The following weekend the hour goes forward and it will then really feel like spring.  Wonder if we will get a heat-wave early April as we seem to have had these past few years.  Do hope so.  TTFN.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Midweek Must Do's....

Already Wednesday and my 'must do's' are piling up.  At least am doing quite well sorting out all the 'not now needs' from the larder, and able to pass them on rather than let them go to waste.

As I had to place a small order to be delivered from Tesco (ingredients needed for the Sailing Club desserts), decided to treat myself and bought several items I (previously) used to love to eat.  When I started to eat some of them found they tasted awful - due entirely to my taste-buds not now working, all I got was a bitter tastes of what seemed like additives.

Even some of the fresh fruit didn't have the flavours I remember.  Braeburn apples had no flavour at all, the ripen-at-home peaches (one nearly ripe) also no flavour.  Thankfully the 'easy-peel' clementines I could taste but even then only just.

Perhaps a blessing in disguise (as I shouldn't be eating them at all) is that the crunchy prawn crackers (I used to LOVE these) also tasted awful, even the popcorn!   I'd even bought some scones (to see how they compared to home-made) and these too were not nice.  Not nice to me, to everyone else would probably be OK.  So don't take your enjoyment of eating a flavoursome meal for granted, one day you too may lose your sense of taste, and believe me I'd (almost) be happy to have continual gout if I could taste food again.
At least that meant there was another load of goodies for my daughter to take home for her own enjoyment, and also pass on to others.

One good thing, I needed black cherries for the Black Forest Gateaux I'll be making, so ordered some canned cherries, but also noticed that Tesco sold the frozen pitted cherries, so ordered several packs of these, and some I will soak in a little kirsch, the rest will be eaten by me, over time, keeping some especially for my next gout attack.

It was an absolutely beautiful day yesterday and my daughter wanted to take me out for a drive and stop for a cup of tea and a cake etc.  I agreed, but we first sorted the (above) foods, and I was feeling so very tired I just couldn't be bothered to go out - too much effort to put on my jacket, shoes and walk those few yards to the car (even with the help of my 'walker frame').  Felt almost as though I was about to have a panic attack.
Perhaps, as I've not left the house (except for a couple of surgery appts and once to the pharmacy - taken by car) since my Beloved passed away (4 1/2 months now), perhaps I'm getting a fear of leaving the house (is that called 'agrophobia'?). I've not even been into the garden, always using the cold weather as an excuse I suppose. 

Perhaps, once I've cleared away a lot of the clutter that is in the house, I will feel different, and if I can force myself to move around a lot more, even if only walking round and round the dining table (like the Bronte sisters used to do for exercise in bad weather), doing one more round each day, then perhaps my legs will start working again properly.    However comfortable it is just sitting in my easy chair, it is becoming too much of a temptation, so it's up to me to do something sensible and get moving again.

Thanks Christopher for sending that write-up about 'The (Shirley) Goode Kitchen that was in that listing of Radio Times programmes.  It made it sound worth watching.

Not sure how long that letter was that I wrote to you in the 80's Pam, but you could refer to it and copy it out to send as a comment, then we can all read it.  Unless of course it was private.  I can't remember writing to you, but then I wrote to many interested viewers at that time.
Hope your weather soon improves,  here today we are supposed to be getting some severe gales and rain over on the western side of the UK, not necessarily as far down as we are, mainly in Scotland. At the moment the sun is shining although there is quite a strong breeze.  A hazy sky with bits of blue showing.

;How lovely Joitsie to be able to buy your fresh fruit and veg from an Amish community.  Is this in Pennsylvania? The Amish have a lovely and natural way of life (I love watching the film 'The Witness'), and especially their use of pony and traps.  We have had a few programmes (documentaries, fly on the wall sort of thing), about Amish families and I love the way the little children are taught to help as soon as they can toddle.  It's very much a culture shock when a few of their teenagers come to live in the UK for a few months, and vice versa.
Believe now that many Amish are entering the 21st century in their use of some electrics such as washing machines, even the use of telephones and cars.  Let us hope they don't start using computers. 

Today's 'work' is to check I have the ingredients for the desserts, and make a list of those I need to order later (the 'do' is on the 21st of this month).  Also STILL have to sort out the freezer/s.  Yes, I know I was going to do this weeks ago but for some reason never got around to it (OK so I'm lazy). But I now will need the room to freeze some pre-baked chocolate sponge cakes ready to fill with cherries and cream in a couple of weeks. The more I can do now, the easier it will be closer to the time.

Have a visitor tomorrow morning, also on Friday, so I probably won't be blogging again until the weekend.  All depends on what free time I have.   If I'm fitting in 'having a walk' round the dining table, might feel the need for a sit at half-time, so might even choose the computer chair and while sitting, write a bit of blog - or at least reply to comments.  Just have to wait and see.  TTFN.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Quick Catch Up...

Seems we are getting wet weather this weekend (North West), rest of the country having dry and more spring like weather.  Temperature up to 17C, so seems that winter is now over and done with.

Another load of larder food has been moved on for others to use up.  Not sure why, but this has cheered me up quite a bit, maybe it is the sight of a lot of empty spaces on the shelves that can now be filled with non-foods.  Those days of stocking up to give a feeling of security, seem now no longer necessary. 

Still have the freezers to sort out as I need at least one large drawer to store my cake bases etc, and also some (home-made) ready-meals.   That has to be done bit by bit as it is mighty cold sitting in front of the tall freezer when the door is open, the smaller freezer (with four separate drawers) can be sortied drawer by drawer, each taken to the table and contents less likely to get hidden at back of shelves.

Am always grateful for your comments as these can be replied to - even if I have nothing else to write about, and have to say that spreading pesto over a pizza base is a very good idea Margie.  Traditionally it was always tomato (pizza) sauce, but recently I've seen the American cooks (in diners etc) spread pizzas with a white sauce (cheese based?), so perhaps time we changed the normal to something different.
American readers may be able to give some suggestions.

Like the idea of using balsamic vinegar (with sherry) to pickle beetroot Cheesepare although I tend to prefer eating unpickled cooked beetroot in sarnies (from vacuum packs).  Sandwiches made with the soft 'Philly' type cheese topped with beetroot is a favourite. 
For those that don't already know, eating beetroot helps to lower blood pressure.  I also like drinking beetroot juice (surplus can be frozen), and chocolate cakes/brownies made with choc and grated cooked beetroot are wonderful.  Children love them.

Not sure how much mushy peas cost, depends on the quality I suppose.  Cheap cans of the mushies can be improved if a little melted butter is mashed in with a pinch of seasoning. 
Have found that those packs of 'quick-cook' dried peas do make wonderful mushy peas (adding butter and maybe a pinch of sugar as well as seasoning according to your choice of flavour) and I make up a whole pack then freeze it away in small tubs to eat (with fish 'n chips') as required.

Normally I don't reply to a comment from 'Anonymous', but as this queried an old recipe of mine thought I'd give it a mention.
Yes, my original pan-fry-pizza had a base made from flour mixed to a dough with yogurt, and it worked very well as long as eaten once the topping had been heated under the grill.  If left too long the base then became a bit soft.   If the pizza was to stand for longer, then perhaps the bread-dough type base would be a better choice. 

Even as I write my mind is visualising making a pan-fry-pizza using either a naan bread or a tortilla/chapatti as the base, just heated through in the pan and then given a smear of tomato ketchup/paste, pkus plenty of toppings, grated cheese on top - under the grill and then this could be wrapped up in half (a bit like a calzone), or even rolled up to eat as a hot snack.

When 'The Goode Kitchen' was being shown on TV I did tape all the episodes Christopher, but somehow they got taped over (mistakenly by one of the children), the same thing happened when I taped the many 'live' Pebble Mill cookery spots that I did, also 'Bazaar'.  Suppose I felt they were not important enough to keep, but wish now I had.  At least have the books.

When we first moved to Leeds my next-door neighbour ran a B & B (she shouldn't have done, her house was council owned, but not my problem) and she used to buy a lot of her food from cash and carry, especially vegetables where she would go to the Leeds version of Covent Garden (wholesale greengrocery), and buy sacks of carrots, onions, spuds etc for a really low (wholesale) price.  Anyone can go to these wholesalers and buy what they want as long as the produce is by the sack, box, or crate (not by the kg unless normally sold that way). 
Nowadays soft fruits such as strawberries are usually sold by the punnet, even though the punnets are (at the wholesalers) sold by the crate, but in those days the fruit was sold loose in trays, and it was possible to buy fruit that was past its best, very low cost, and then make jam with it.

The only snag with buying in this way is that you need to be at the warehouse very early in the morning (about 4.00am) to get the best produce at the best price.
Leeds Market would sell some produce very cheaply at the end of the week (late Saturday) when they knew it wouldn't keep until the following Monday - such as fresh berries, tomatoes, mushrooms, salads.... so another good way to get cheaper produce is to hover round the fresh food markets late on Saturdays (and this can include meat, poultry, even bakers for bread etc).  All we need is time and persistence.

Have to say I'd rather spend time on making meals from fresh produce, even if it does work out  slightly dearer, as the way my mind works is that time equals money, so as long as one way (or the other) will make a saving, does it matter which is chosen?   If I was desperate, I'd probably do both, then end up exhausted by the end of the day.

Well, that's my quick catch up, as ever not much to chat about these days, but at least I'm feeling a lot more positive.  My gout has nearly subsided, but - being me - I've now developed a very stiff neck.    Those were the days when I woke up having no pains at all.  And wasn't this taken for granted.  We don't know how lucky we are/have been until too late.  Keep telling myself things could be a lot worse.  TTFN.  

Friday, March 06, 2015

Friday Thoughts

Have taken a look at that website link that Margie mentioned.  Great similarity to the smallholding that Kathryn is hoping to set-up, so info given that may help cut a few corners for her.  How I wish I was young enough to start self-sufficiency all over again.   Life isn't nearly as much fun now I can afford to buy what I need (even sometimes what I want). 

Yesterday filled my trolley with another lot of unwanted food from my larder, this too will be collected by my daughter and be shared around.   Am still finding my taste buds have disappeared and so almost anything I eat I now don't enjoy, in many cases even dislike what I used to love.  On the good side I have developed a great liking for Brussels sprouts!  

At least the much smaller portions of food that I do manage to eat are helping me lose weight, albeit slowly.  Water retention now seems under control, the doctor did say it would take some weeks for the heart pills to kick in (the extra strength of these are helping, as well as fluid retention pills).  All I need now is to take something for depression, eating for comfort doesn't now work.

At least I have the sailing club desserts to occupy my mind, but doubt very much I will go to the 'do' as my Beloved spent so much time there it as if his personality was soaked into the place (too many memories), and I don't think I could cope with a lot of people coming up to chat and see how I am coping.  Have to wait until the day to see how I feel.
My daughter is going so she will take the desserts and me too if necessary.

Thanks to jane, Kathryn and Sarina for giving prices for those sacks of pony carrots, also good to hear that onions can also be bought cheaply by the sack.   Both veggies store quite a long time (carrots in fridge, onions in a basket in the kitchen....).  Are there any other veggies that can be bought cheaply by the sack (and keep for several weeks/months) from farm stores/pet shops?

The Poor Knight's of Windsor is a very old and traditional recipe Janette. It may have other names in different regions of the UK.  Suppose it is basically a cross between a jam sandwich and eggy-bread and in more recent years, given different fillings, can end up either savoury or sweet.

Have to say that even though my left foot is still 'gouty' (seems to have moved into my big toe now), am not finding it too much trouble to walk around with the help of sticks or zimmer frame.  Or maybe just getting used to it.  Things could be worse.  I suppose.

Although not yet back into the 'recipes each day', that I used to give, perhaps better to give one occasionally that really does make a good meal while using up left-overs and store-cupboard ingredients.  Here is one that can make use of roasted vegetables (the ones given are red onion, yellow bell pepper, courgette... but of course you could use any Mediterranean veggies that you would normally have roasted.
This is even easier than my original 'pan-fry' recipe where the pizza dough was made using yogurt.

Roasted Vegetable Pan-Fry Pizza:  serves 4
Roasted yellow pepper, courgette, red onion
8 oz (225g) self-raising flour
salt and pepper
pinch of dried mixed herbs (opt)
2 tblsp olive oil
4 - 5 tblsp water
5 tblsp tomato sauce (or puree)
2 oz (50g) grated Cheddar cheese
Cut the roasted veggies into even-sized chunks, slices or wedges, and drizzle with a little of the oil.
If roasting from raw, once cooked (beginning to char), remove from oven and set aside to cool.
Heat the grill to Medium, then season the flour well and mix with the remaining oil and enough water to make a soft dough.
Knead gently for a few minutes, then roll out onto a floured surface to form an 8" (20cm) circle, then lift this onto a non-stick frying pan and fry over medium heat for 4 - 5 minutes until the underside begins to brown.  Then turn it over and fry for a further 4 minutes.
Spread the tomato sauce over the upper surface of the base, scatter with the roasted veggies, the sprinkle the cheese on top.   Grill for 3 - 4 minutes until the cheese has melted.  Serve sliced into wedges.

It doesn't take much imagination to alter the topping to suit what you want to use up such as ham, or tuna and sweetcorn, bacon, chorizo, mushrooms, onions.....  If necessary, cook or part-cook toppings before placing on the cooked base.

That's it for today, hope to be with you again over the weekend, if not it should be Monday. TTFN



Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Week Moves On...

As I had to be at the comp to check emails, thought I'd grab a few moments more to reply to comments and do a bit more 'blog-chat'.

A bit disappointed yesterday when I had my second email from 'Contact the Elderly' (re hosting tea-parties).  Apparently they don't - as yet - do these in Morecambe, but have put me on their list.  By the time they do I'll probably be too old to cope (nearly am at the moment).

However, it turned out that a lot of the now unneeded foods I was hoping to get rid of (from my larder) were able to be given away to a couple or so people who could make good use of them, so not wasted.  I can now sort out the rest today, plus the freezers and hopefully dispose of this food in the same way.  That made me feel a lot better.

As to  how I got interested in painting Granny G.  My Dad was a very good amateur artist, and I used to watch him paint. It was when I was 13 I suddenly felt the urge to paint a picture myself, so asked my Dad if I could borrow his oil paints, and he let me take them up to a spare room and set about painting a picture.  It took me all day, and I missed both my lunch and my tea because I could not bear to stop what I was doing.  My Dad understood and told my Mum to leave me to get on with it. 
My daughter still has the picture, and considering my age and it was my first attempt, have to say it was quite good.  Probably painting is in my genes.

From then I used to draw on small picture in a book each day when I returned from school, usually something simple like a Disney character, but more complicated as the months went by.   My daughter now has that book.
From there I began to paint larger pictures, usually in acrylic (it dries much faster than oils), and painted loads of flowers, my favourite being roses.  Did a few landscapes, but liked to include animals such as larger animals: horses, elephants, leopards....    Later I was asked to 'paint' pictures of friends dogs, copied from photos given, and for these I used pastels.  Probably some of my best efforts.

Was able to sell quite a few pictures, but charged only for the cost of materials/postage etc,  my enjoyment came from painting, not making money. 
Not quite sure why, but was not able to paint well all the time.  It seemed to come in phases, and when I felt like painting that was all I did for about 6 weeks, the very next day I couldn't do anything right at all and it might be 10 years before the mood came over me again.   At the moment am waiting for this 'mood' to strike.

Had thought of making a Rum Baba for the Sailing Club Jane, but they usually ask me to provide desserts that I have made before and that have been a great success such as Tiramisu, Sicilian Cassata, Tropical Fruit Cheesecake.... and I've also suggested Black Forest Gateau, Pavlova, and Profiteroles.  Will have to wait to hear their final choice.
There are many other desserts I'd love to provide such as Banoffee Pie, Key Lime Pie, Lemon Mousse.... but this year am leaning towards desserts that can be prepared in advance (such as making chocolate cake to freeze, then assemble later for BFG), and need an overnight chill in the fridge before completing/decorating.   This will make things much easier for m as I'm still not able to work at full stretch ALL day.

Those 12 portions for £3 (25p each) is amazing jane, and giving your costing for each ingredient has proved just how simple (if you can call it that!) it is to make a cheap meal. 
Many home-made meals can be a lot less expensive to make than we think.  The trick is first do the costing. 

Ready-meals often seem incredibly cheap for what we get, but we have to remember that the ingredients would have been bought in bulk, far cheaper than we would pay per kg. and not always the best quality.  This doesn't mean to say that fresh foods have to be perfect.  I understand that a large sack of 'pony carrots' (small, misshapes, but perfectly edible) cost very little (remind us of the price Kathryn and where they could be bought).

When we buy quality ready-meals (read on to find it is sometimes worth it), then wait until they are reaching their sell-by date as yesterday my daughter brought me a Marks and Spencer ready-to-microwave meal (curry), and we all know how good their meals can be.  This was reduced in price to £1.55 and I ate it yesterday for my supper and it was gorgeous with tons more flavour than something similar from those companies who provide and deliver frozen-to-microwave food for the elderly (at double the price). So am lucky to have my daughter to shop around to see what is on offer especially at M & S.

Had thought about keeping a pet rabbit Cathy, but prefer guinea pigs, mainly because they will 'talk' to you (rabbits don't).  We used to breed guinea pigs (aka cavies), and I also judged them at pet shows, so am especially fond of them.   They are very 'homing' little animals, and discovered (more than once) if they managed to escape from their run and hide somewhere in the garden, the pet ones would answer when I called them by name, or - at dusk - would return to their run and hutches all by themselves, where I would find them early next morning.  Even the baby ones could do this.

The advantage with guinea pigs (also rabbits I suppose) is that their hutch could be kept indoors (at least in our conservatory) during the colder months.  Have to have a think about it.

That's it for today. Nothing much of interest - for which I apologise - but thought I'd keep in touch. With maybe visitors tomorrow, and certainly one on Friday, then the weekend, it may be a few days before I return to blog.  All depends on what time I get up I suppose.  These cold mornings bed seems too good to leave.  TTFN. 

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Whatever the Weather....

One minute it seems like spring, the next it is snowing.  Yes, proper snow, here in Morecambe, for on Sunday afternoon I looked out of the window and saw huge flakes of snow falling slowly down, even settling on roofs, sadly didn't last long, but the next morning it happened again.  Sadly, when the sun came out, it all disappeared.  But at least we had some.

It's still very cold, and has been extremely windy, but by the end of the week we are supposed be having a high pressure area, higher temperatures and a lot more sun, expected to last several days, so maybe by then spring really will have arrived.

I've had an email back from 'Contact the Elderly' to thank me for offering to volunteer.  Not even sure I'm up to doing much (if anything) but will give it my best shot.  Should be contacted by one of their representatives shortly.

Hadn't heard about kidney's being bad for gout Juhli, but as I don't like them anyway, easy enough to avoid. 

It's interesting how some pills that help to prevent gout seem to work for several readers, but not for Les.  Maybe it's a man thing.
Am sure our pharmacist will point me in the direction of what I could take, they are very good at letting me know I can't have certain pills (such as Ibruprofen etc) as they clash with the medication I take regularly.  We are getting quite a few 'flyers' through the door, and see ads on TV re using the pharmacy for general queries instead of cluttering up the waiting room in GP's surgeries.

CTMOM's comment on keeping hens (again) has tempted me to consider doing this.  As readers know I've always wanted to do so, but B wouldn't let me.  Trouble is, could I cope with them on my 'bad days'?  Yet I really do want a pet of some sort.  Perhaps I should keep one or two guinea pigs again, I used to love these little animals, and they do 'talk' to us.  My favourite ones used to toddle across the room and sit on my feet, to be lifted onto my lap for a cuddle.

Am, Granny G,  very impressed with the Big Painting Challenge, am nowhere in their league, as unfortunately my style of painting is very exact/accurate, rather like the Dutch artists.  Give me a photo and I'll give you a picture that resembles it to the last 'pixel'.  Not too bad at still life, and so I might try painting some 'edibles', rather than landscapes, people etc....

Don't forget that cooking and sewing are also skills, and can be very creative.  Suppose you could call 'artistic' being the icing on the cake sort of thing. 

Had heard that cherries are good for gout Eileen.  In fact bought several packs of dried cherries for my once S.I.L, am sure I have a pack in my own larder.   Think I will buy a couple of cherry trees that can be planted either on the patio or in the garden this spring, but keep them netted or the birds will eat the fruit.

The sun is shining, yet I see it is also snowing, or perhaps hailing.  It won't last.

Yesterday spent a happy hour in the larder clearing out all the tins/packs of 'dry goods' that I am unlikely to use.  Most of them still just within 'b/b/date'.   The others slightly past it, but being 'b.b' and not 'use-by' am sure are still OK.  All had been bought to serve to B and of no interest to me, so am hoping my daughter can use some at least.  They do not have enough 'dates' left on them to be given to the FoodBank (they only accept those that have at least 3 month's b/b/ date left on them).

After writing up the recipe yesterday (using left-over sarnies), saw a recipe where cheese sarnies could be dipped in the egg, then laid on top of a savoury filling (in that instance it was baked beans and sausages I think) to be baked in the oven until crisp on top. Even without the bangers and beans, the cheese sarnies alone could be cut into triangles to fill a dish, then egg and milk poured over to make a savoury 'bread and butter pudding'.  It doesn't take much imagination to think of this as a type of 'lasagne', but using tomato sandwiches, the bread taking the place of pasta, with a cheese sauce poured over with a sprinkling of grated cheese, then crisped in the oven (or under the grill).

My thoughts still keep going to Kathryn's forthcoming move (am SO envious), with my imagination putting myself into a similar situation where I would certainly hope to have enough land to have a big greenhouse and some of those plastic 'tunnels' where some produce could be grown throughout the year.  On some TV progs I've seen owners move their chickens into these 'tunnels' for the winter, so they can help fertilise the land within, and also give them room to run around under cover in the colder and wetter weather (protect from foxes).

With me, everything would have to be almost instant, so my small orchard would have been planted, giving enough blooms (pollinated by the bees from the hives beneath) to give loads of perfect fruit. A couple of sheep would keep the grass down beneath the trees so no need to mow.  The sun would shine during the day, rain would fall at night, enough protection from wind, and a good stream running through the land, with maybe a small lake that will also hold fish. My idea of heaven I suppose (that includes enough 'helpers' to do all the hard work while I sit and watch! In retrospect I think I'd have made a good farmer's wife in the old days).

Enough daydreaming, time for me to keep working through my food stores.  I need freezer space as have been asked to make several desserts for the Morecambe Sailing Club Grand Opening at the end of this month.  Much can be prepared in advance, then assembled on the day. 

Think today is Tuesday (all days are the same), so should be blogging again later this week. See you then.


Sunday, March 01, 2015

May the Force Be with Me....

Sad to hear of the death of 'Mr Spock'.  Let us hope that some of the 'force' he spoke about still has power for us all.  I could do with it.

Last week has not been a good one, a mixture of depression, perhaps due mainly to my gout.  There is nothing worse than having painful feet.  OK while sitting down, but sooner or later have to stand up and move around and at times like that life doesn't seem worth living.

It's not been all bad.  Did enjoy watching 'The Best Marigold Hotel' (and I bet I've got that title wrong).  Even watched some of the repeat yesterday evening, mainly due to it having some of our best actors.

'Bake Off' was good, so was '...Sewing Bee', also other cookery progs.  Maybe I've already given them a mention. 

Decided today to take the bull by the horns and this morning have sent off my details to Contact the Elderly (re hosting tea-parties, and also volunteering to give talks on cost-cutting cookery).  At least it will give me something to plan for/think about if they are interested.

Reply to comments, am realising that perhaps I don't give enough information when I talk about some things.  Les has sent good advice, but the difficulty with me is that my freezer is full of food that was bought for my B (and that I don't like - kidney's etc). Also the freezers cost less to run when they are kept full.  I could - of course - fill boxes full of water to freeze to fill any gaps when the food supply runs down.

Another problem is that I have lost most of my sense of taste, this means I've also lost my appetite, so end up eating less anyway.

Regarding Wiltshire Farm Foods.  The ones mentioned were going to be a present from my daughter, but probably I'll ask not to have them anyway - at least until my appetite returns.  Of course they will be more expensive than home-made, but a great deal cheaper than eating something similar at a café.

Yes jane, it was John Seymour's book on self-sufficiency that I was thinking about.  We had a copy of that and I used as much of the advice as I could. As to (the other) Jane, keeping goats, myself would prefer to keep a Jersey cow, but suppose much depends on how much milk we could manage to deal with - each day.

The chemist wouldn't let me have Ibruprofen/Neurofen to help my inflamed foot as they clashed with pills I already take.  Was told paracetamol was best to take - which I do - but these don't take much of the pain away.  Just have to wait a few more days for it to subside.  It is getting better.
Am fed up with continually having to contact the doctor re things like this Sairy, so am coping with it on my own.

Last week watched a programme about supermarkets, Tesco being the one mainly talked about.  It brought to mind how much we now seem to rely on supermarkets, and the trend is to turn to the discount stores such as Aldi and Lidl - perhaps because they carry a far smaller range of each product - and of course, cheaper.

Maybe we need to change our way of cooking rather than where we shop.  Go back to the old and more traditional meals that we call 'farmhouse fare' in the UK, and 'peasant food' in other countries.
So many inexpensive ingredients can make really tasty dishes.

Here is one of my favourites.  Make the savoury version by using left-over ham or cheese sarnies, or a sweeter version using jam sarnies, and for those who want the best of both worlds, this uses both cheese AND jam.  As we also use eggs, then what seems nothing special could turn out to be quite nutritional.

Before I give the recipe, must mention eggs.  My daughter brought me some free-range large eggs from a Lancashire village where some friends kept a few hens.  Each egg was a different colour, one was blue!  Considering the size and quality, the cost £1.25 for the six was remarkably cheap.  Not only that, each egg yolk was the deepest orange, the like of which I haven't seen in decades.  Almost thinking of keeping my own hens.

The original 'Poor Knight's....' were just jam sarnies dipped in egg, so you could omit the cream cheese if you wished (or use less of it).  If you prefer you could use Nutella instead of jam, or smoked salmon with the cream cheese.  The basic idea (fried eggy bread) can have many fillings, both savoury or sweet, so a good way to use up bits and bobs.

Poor Knight's Of Windsor:  serves 2
2 - 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
4 fl oz (100ml) milk
1 tsp vanilla extract (opt)
2 tblsp caster sugar
4 oz (100g) cream cheese
2 tblsp icing sugar
2 tblsp strawberry (or other) jam
4 slices slightly stale white bread
1 oz (25g) butter
Put the eggs, milk, vanilla and caster sugar into a bowl and whisk together, then pour into a wide shallow dish.
Beat the icing sugar into the cream cheese and spread this over 2 slices of the bread.  Top this with the jam, covering each with the remaining slices of bread.
Place each sandwich into the egg mixture, and leave to soak for 30 seconds, then turn over and soak the other side.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large frying pan, and when beginning to foam, put in the soaked sarnies and fry for 3 - 4 minutes on each side until golden.   Serve with extra warmed jam, using this as a sauce, if wished.

Now I really do have to deal with some chores (not that I want to, but needs must....) and am hoping, now that we have got rid of February, that the onset of spring will bring more cheer into my life. It's my own fault, I must stop feeling sorry for myself.  Life goes on and it's up to me to make it work. 

Intention is I will be blogging more often, so keep watching this space.  TTFN.