Tuesday, October 21, 2014

It's an Ill Wind....

Another short blog, but better a few words than none at all.  Not that 'few' is a word I recognise.  Know what I mean?

Howling gale blowing rain at the windows as I write.  Almost forgotten what that sounded like.  Once this is over we again are supposed to be getting warmer weather.  Could be Christmas before the real chill sets in, and maybe not even then.  All I can say is that it feels good to be indoors.  It has now started to hail!!!
Danger with high winds and rain at this time of year is that it blows down a lot of leaves and these then become very slippery.  If I can persuade B to shovel them up into sacks, they will make good compost for next year.  So an ill wind can blow good as well as bad.

It's been a wonderful year for leaf-colour change.  We have a large forsythia bush in our front garden, and although pruned down quite a bit after flowering, it has really shot up again.  Normally it ends its year by shedding just green leaves, but this year - and I've never seen this before - the leaves began to change colour, and many 'spikes/branches' began to show deep red.  I first thought it was another plant that was growing through the bush, but it was the forsythia.  More and more red spikes appeared, and now the rest of the bush has changed to all shades of pale yellow to orange through to red.  It's a wonderful sight, and very visible from our sitting room (about the only bush that is as the window sill is fairly high).   It's as if our garden is bursting to show how lovely it can look when it tries.
As I look through the long, narrow window above my desk, I see the vivid Acer bush, a glorious copper colour. that looks even more impressive against a back-drop of dark-green cordyline and holly.   Some Acers change colour as they approach autumn, but ours is always copper coloured from the first leaves in spring, although seemingly even deeper and brighter in colour all through this year.

Went to the doc's yesterday for an update.  He was very pleased with my speedy recovery, faster than either he or the hospital expected apparently.  A whole new lot of pills, taking the place of the old ones that have now been stopped, and most will have to be taken for the rest of my life.  Just a couple more checks at the Lancaster Infirmary, then - fingers crossed - will be back to (almost) normal.

Yesterday bought myself one of those 'U/V' shaped pillows to help me sleep better in bed, and have to say it worked well.  Doc said best for me to sleep slightly propped up to make my breathing easier (had water on my lungs - this will disappear naturally over time), and the new pillow is just right.  Had the best night's sleep last night for nearly a month.

Thanks for comments.  Not sure if you've now returned to Perth (Australia) Mary, or just moved on from the Midlands area on your visit here. 
While in hospital, a new patient arrived in our five-bed ward, her bed opposite to mine, and she was on holiday in England, her home now being in Australia.  Think she was a Lancastrian as she had kept her accent, no sign of an OZ accent even though she had lived there 23 years.
She gave her address to a patient next to her, and I can't now remember it, but it was in Perth, sounded like a suburb (began with a C), and have forgotten the name of the road - it had an almost Aboriginal sound - something like Woranattah.   Or Warattanah?  Am sure you will know the one I mean. 
Who knows, you may even know the lady (her name was Mavis).  Stranger things can happen.

It's an interesting thing about what has been said about hospitals and care there.  Myself have been in only two - St.James (Jimmy's) in Leeds, and now Lancaster Infirmary, but in both had amazingly good care AND good food. 

Even in  our small ward it was noticeable how some of the patients who were well enough to speak, used to complain a lot.  'Food is AWFUL' said the bed next to mine, pushing it away and refusing to eat any of it.  But the lady was very poorly (99 years old on the 23rd of this month), and after she had a blood transfusion, she suddenly got colour in her cheeks, said she was hungry, and promptly ate everything put before her saying it was lovely.

Another patient was endlessly complaining, and I noticed she switched her moans and groans on only when one of the nurses or orderlies entered the ward.  She seemed OK at other times, chatting happily to Mavis, and actually smiled and waved goodbye to me when I left.  She just needed a bit of attention I think beyond what the nurses could give her, and have to say they were so kind to her, all the time they were in the ward.  Me, I'd have felt like giving her a slap.  I'd never make a good nurse.

Not sure that I was the most popular patient in the eyes of the others.  When their visitors came, all they did was tell them how dreadfully they were treated and moaning-millie (above) pleaded with her son to send her to a private hospital where she could have a private consultant etc. etc. 
My visitors (either daughter, B or my next-door neighbour) spent most of the visiting time shrieking with laughter over one thing or another.  As a family we find fun in anything.  B happily munching his way through the odd snacks that I'd put to one side and hadn't yet eaten (wasn't going to eat them anyway).

Maybe, one day I'll be ill in hospital and not feel like finding any enjoyment in anything.  In a way I felt a bit like that this time - couldn't even be bothered to listen to the radio or use the TV (each bed had one).  Just wanted to like back and get better, but at no time did I feel like moaning.  Most of the time I spent thanking the nurses for all the attention, love and care, they were giving me.  They deserve to be thanked.

Perhaps some hospitals are better than others, and the Morecambe Bay Hospitals have had a bad press recently (despite the name, this name covers all the hospitals in Lancashire, Cumbria, Lake District etc).
Did hear two nurses talking together as they changed the beds, most of them live several miles out of Lancaster, one has had to her sell her car as she couldn't afford to run it due to the low wages, and it takes her ages now to get from home to the hospital as she has to change buses more than once.  The working hours seem long too.  The nurse was saying she will probably have to move closer to the hospital.

Just because nursing is considered a 'vocation', doesn't mean the wages should be lower than those given to others who work far less hard.  Nurses, I am sure, work a great deal harder than most.

I've contacted Steve re the possibility of a 'communal site' where you (and I do mean YOU) make, photo, and send in a recipe from this blog (or 'Goode' books), that you recommend worth making  Am hoping that will collect the best recipes together, and these then easily able to be found - and tried by those who wish to make them.  More on this later.

Over the past few weeks I've been busy knitting and crocheting, and have now several old cushions re-covered with hand-knit.  Was gratified to see a couple, very similar to mine, in a Sunday supplement, also a 'throw', the cushions starting at £45!  Certainly has 'lifted' the ambience (whatever that is) of our sitting room.  Almost looks good enough to allow in visitors (once B had cleared up all his clutter!!!).

Between times I knitted 'hand-warmers' (like mittens but without defined fingers/thumb).  Just a piece of ribbing knitted for 8 rows on 31 stitches, then plain knitting (purl on backside) for 28 rows, picking up the middle loop of every 5th row to make an extra stitch until I had 35 stitches on needle.  When 28th row was completed, then knit-one, purl-one rib again for 14 rows, then cast off.
Stitch up sides together, leaving a small hole under the short rib for the thumb to stick through.  The short rib becomes the top of the mitten, the longer rib fits round the wrist.
Very simple to make, a pair can be knitted in less than 2 hours, and they really do keep hands warm without restraining the fingers (or thumb).  When the weather gets colder I'll be wearing these indoors once out of the kitchen).

That's all the chat I can muster today,  probably be back again before the weekend.  TTFN.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Worth Being Ill For....

Just been catching up with Gill's news (regular Sunday phone call), she was on holiday last week, so didn't know about my spell in hospital.
As sitting at my desk (land line phone by my side) thought I'd take the opportunity to write my blog before I settle down to do the rest of what's needed to be done today, and then put my feet up.

Am still improving, albeit slowly.  Seeing the doc tomorrow so should then know how much I can do and can't do. 

Another huge thank you for the lovely comments sent in.  A welcome to Joitsie (and a few others who have sent in their first comments recently).

Your mention of hospital food (esp soup) Jane, has prompted me to write down the menus for the couple of days I was in hospital.  Just in case anyone is interested.  Myself feel we were given a good choice.
Menu lists were left at the side of each bed the evening before, and we would then tick the boxes to show what we had chosen.  We could also choose small, medium, or large portions.  Naturally I chose large, but am not sure if that was what was given to me, they didn't seem THAT large.

Saturday lunch (for week 1) we had Roast Parsnip and Rosemary Soup - a James Martin recipe. This followed by a choice of three main courses:  Lamb and Potato Pie (also J'M's recipe), Vegetable Lasagne, or Cottage Cheese and Pineapple Salad. (I chose the cottage cheese/salad).
To these we could add 'extras': 'potatoes of the day', and/or 'vegetables of the day'.
We could choose one dessert from the three listed: Jam Sponge and Custard, Rice Pudding, and Fruit of the Day (I chose the Jam Sponge).

The lady in the next bed to me had chosen the Lamb and Potato Pie, and it looked and smelled gorgeous and I wished I'd had that instead of the salad.  Maybe next time?

Saturday supper was: Lentil Broth, followed by either a cheese and tomato sandwich on wholemeal bread, or chicken mayonnaise sandwich on white bread, or Tuna Salad with a bread roll and butter (this being my choice).  Not sure why, but the bread is never buttered or 'marged', it is just plain bread with the chosen filling.  Ok if the filling consists of something with mayo, but very dry if just cold meat.  They give us little pots of butter/marg AND jam/marmalade to spread on our breakfast toast, so if I have to stay in hospital again think I'll take my own 'extras' to top up the meals.
Also chose the 'extras on the Saturday menu - these being Mini cheese crackers.
Dessert was Victoria Sponge (J.M's recipe and my choice) or fruit of the day.

The Sunday Menu was:
Pea and Ham Soup (J.M's recipe and it was lovely), and either Roast Beef with Yorkshire Pudding (also J.M recipe) or Vegetarian Sausages in Gravy and Yorkshire Pudding (my choice).
Extras were: vegetables of the day (my choice), creamed potatoes, roast potatoes (my choice), gravy.

Desserts was either Fruit Crumble and Custard (my choice) or fruit of the day.

As I went home before the Sunday supper was served, have now forgotten what I ordered.  Think it was much the same as the Saturday, just different choice of flavours.

Margie's mention of her mum being in hospital for five days (after having a baby) reminded me of when I had our first two.  Mine were born so easily (approx. 2 hours from start to finish), but in those days they kept us in bed for up to 2 weeks.  Nowadays it is 'get up and go' as soon as possible after the baby is born. 
With our fourth (last) baby (who started at 5.00am and born 20 minutes later), I was up later that day making bacon sarnies for B's supper.  Obviously I was one of the lucky ones.

Now then, I had a BRILLIANT idea yesterday (at least I thought so).  Regular readers may remember that some time ago I said I was working on starting another web-site, this to be just for recipes plus hints and tips.  It's ready to go (almost) but as my camera didn't work, couldn't then take photos of the dishes I'd cooked and wanted to put onto the site. 
Steve bought me a new camera, but due to recent health issues have not yet begun working on the website and still have to find out how to use the camera to its full potential (it doesn't come with instructions other than those on a disc that have to be read via the comp). 

How about the new site being OUR site.  Yours and mine.  What I would like to happen is readers choose one (and more) recipes that have been either published on this blog, or in the various cookery books that I've written.  Find the ones that they like and can recommend, then make, photo, and put on the new website.  Also altering the dish if they feel it can be improved (or made even cheaper).
That way we get a good idea of what the dishes do look like -- and a picture paints a thousand words, hopefully tempting others to make the same.  And if they don't like it when made, tell us why.

But it doesn't have to be just MY recipes, why not include your own?  If you like the idea I will get on to Steve (who is setting up the site for me) and he will then tell us how to forward the photos/recipes to him. 

Scrolling back through Archives to view the thousands of recipes already on this site. I know there are hundreds worth making, but never easy to find, and if these are made and put onto this new site,  it'll be a bit like a cookbook written by all of us.  Everything together to find at the press of a button.    

Please let me know what you think of this idea. TTFN   


Friday, October 17, 2014

Wake Up Call...

Not yet up to blogging daily, but felt well enough to pop in and thank all of you for your lovely comments and kind thoughts.  So many new names to welcome. I am blessed.
Many thanks to Eileen who kept you posted.

Suffice to say am now feeling a lot better, and after more out-patient scans/tests should know more about what caused the problem.  Have been given four more new meds to take to keep me ticking over as I should, so can't grumble.  Am enjoying putting my feet up.

Maybe I'm one of the few people who actually enjoy being in hospital, and this because all my meals are cooked for me, not by me.  This alone is a real treat, and when I saw that several of the meals were a 'James' Martin recipe' (he has done a lot of work improving hospital meals) I was very pleased.  Even though I didn't always eat 'his' dishes, all the soups were tagged with the little chef's hat (James M's), and these were gorgeous.  The whole ward exclaimed that his pea and ham soup was wonderful.

The day began with a wake-up call  of a hot drink (tea or coffee), then breakfast (choice of cereals, toast (brown or white) with butter or marg, jam or marmalade, then another drink at 'elevenses', then a 3-course lunch, then an early supper (soup, choice of sarnies with salad, and dessert), then a late night hot drink and for those that were still hungry a 'snack' bag containing a sandwich, yogurt, fruit juice and a banana on request.   You can see that even while I felt poorly, food wasn't far from my mind.

Know you will understand if I keep this blog short, and as it is Friday will also take tomorrow off (and prob Sunday as well) before returning.  If I don't feel well, then I won't blog.  For once I am putting my needs first.  Not like me, but there you go.  Needs must as they say....

However it is good to be back, and hope to catch up with comments over the next week.  Weather still good here, they say we are in for an Indian summer!  Just as well, I still haven't planted the spring bulbs or brought in the geraniums.
Soon be Hallow'een, then Bonfire night, then the run up to Christmas.  Perhaps, not surprisingly, I've gone off eating and thinking about food.  Difficulty sleeping at night, so nod off during the day.  Time now for my next nap.   Love and kisses to all.  TTFN.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

First Things First

Sorry no blog yesterday but felt so tired.  Although a little improvement in my health, not enough for me to get on top of things.  If no improvement after this weekend will have to see the doctor.
Finding I'm getting breathless, gaining weight rapidly (even though hardly eating at all - probably due to water retention), and this could be cause by heart failure or pernicious anaemia or a host of things, so it needs sorting.  At my age what else can I expect? 

Was so tired yesterday that I nodded off during the final of '....Bake Off', although I did wake to discover the winner.  Hoping to keep awake to watch the repeat at the weekend.

Got the days mixed up and it wasn't Tuesday there was a footie match, it is tonight, so as this room will be occupied all evening by B, thought I'd get the blog written this morning.  Am going to make a big pot of soup for B's supper, and by the afternoon will then need to have a nap (again!), so with no need to get up and feed the brute, his meal will already have been prepared.

B has asked me to make more bread for him tomorrow, and - perhaps for the first time - I'm going to say no.  He'll have to make do with bought bread.  Never before have I put myself first, but now I feel if I don't, then I'll go downhill fast. 

Until this health problem of mine is sorted, almost certainly won't be doing anything interesting to write about, and the last thing you want to read is a list of my ailments and how I'm feeling each day.  I want to write a happy blog.  So - if it's OK with you - will maybe take a day or two off now and again, and return when there is something worth writing about, although I will check comments regularly and find time to reply to any that need replying to.

Normally I take Saturday off anyway, and occasionally Sunday.  May even take tomorrow (Friday) off and return on Monday.  It all depends on how I feel. Do hope you understand.  Just please don't switch me off forever, I'd hate to lose you.

However, there are all those seasonal recipes, money-saving hints and tips piled up in the Archives, so if I haven't written a blog for the day, then read what I wrote about one year, two years.....six years ago on the same day (or close to).   Myself can read my old blogs (they are far more interesting then they are now) and as I have completely forgotten what I wrote then, it's like reading someone else's. And I enjoy them!!! (modesty is not my strong point).

So - for the moment - expect me when you see me.  Let's hope it's sooner rather than later, and if can't write a proper blog, will find time once or twice a week to give you an update and maybe a recipe or two.  One or two given today.

With a mention of 'junket' the other day, came across this recipe in an old book.  You may wish to try it.  My mother didn't sweeten her junket or add flavourings and possibly this was why I didn't enjoy it.

Warm 1 pint of milk to blood heat, add 1 tblsp of honey or sugar, a few drops of vanilla essence or rum or other flavouring and 1 tsp of rennet.  Pour into a bowl and leave to cool and set.  Serve with fresh fruit and cream.

From the same book comes an easy 'farmhouse supper'.  Perhaps too easy for 21st century palates (that have become used to more complicated and tastier dishes) but this is still comfort eating and makes use of any foods we might have that need using up.  Portions seem smaller than we would expect, but in those days people ate to live, not lived to eat.  So make as much as you need.
I write the recipe as printed in the book.  In those days ingredients were not listed, just mentioned in order of use.  I include metric equiv. where I can.

Farmhouse Supper:  serves 4
Soften 8 oz (225g) of chopped streaky bacon in a frying pan until the fat runs, then remove bacon an pu in 1 lb (450g) of chopped cooked potatoes and a finely chopped onion in the pan to brown lightly.  Season, add the bacon, and transfer to an ovenproof dish.  Put 4 lightly fried eggs on top, sprinkle with 4 oz (100g) grated cheese, and place under the grill for 1 minute before serving.

My last order from Tesco included a couple of substitutes.  They sent me 11x150g cans of Heinz Beanz instead of a few larger cans of their 'Five Beanz'.  Working out the difference in price I would have paid a lot more for the small tins that I was charged (think this saved me over £2 due to their 'price-match).

In a way the small tins were more than useful.  Just enough for one (saved me opening a larger tin and then finding a use for the remainder when serving them to B).   Best of all - these tins were the type where they could be opened from either end using my tin-opener that removes lids without leaving rough metal round the edge. Not many tins/cans these days can be opened from the base as well as the top.  So now, as I use the contents of each of these small beans tins, I also remove their base, and - after a good wash - these are now ready for me to use as containers (like the 'cook's rings' where they pile food inside to serve as 'towers').  I can use these tins to make individual cheesecakes, and also hold individual servings of home-made ice-cream.  So - instead of returning substitutes that I didn't really want - am very glad I kept the small cans.

Have to say that writing recipes has cheered me up a lot (even though still feel exhausted when I think of the chores in front of me).  Before I finish, must thank Margie for her comment - the only one that came in over the past couple of days.  Don't forget you can all read comments sent by each other - all make interesting reading.  So please keep the comments coming.  Remember to use the comment blog on THIS (today's) page, as using any other the comments won't be shown except on the blog-page they were written, and few people bother to look back a day or two.

After a day of gales and rain, and despite the chill in the air (we have now put the central heating on), the sun still shines most of the day.  Leaves turning a lovely colour and if we can keep away from too much wind we should have a lovely autumnal display.  Probably down south they have already got theirs.  It takes about six weeks for the season to work its way up the country from the tip of Cornwall to (let's say) Hadrian's Wall, so depending where you live, your leaves may have already fallen from the trees.  Ours are still clinging.

As I said, it could be a day or two before I blog again.  But keep checking.  I'll be back.  God willing.  TTFN.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Thank Goodness it's Over, Or is It?

Since my last blog thing keep going wrong.  On Saturday - my baking day - we had two power cuts. The first during the night, apparently one of the small electric sub-stations had blown up or something.  Thousands still without electricity, but expected to be on again by 10.00am.  Came back on at 9.00am.  So began baking.  The power then went off again for quite a while, so I was very fed up, cakes ruined.

Added to that I'd been feeling more and more grotty.  Weakness, breathlessness, dizziness.  Realised after a few days that almost certainly I was anaemic again, and luckily had one iron pill left, after taking that, a few hours later felt a bit better, but as it was the weekend, couldn't get more pills until Monday, so went downhill again.   Asked B to get me some Vit.B12 pills as well, and am feeling a lot better now, but not quite back to normal.

Made three huge quiches for the Harvest Supper held at the Spiritualist Church on Monday evening, B was to take them there some time after 3.00pm, but he told me he would be helping out his upholstery mate until 4.00pm so he came home collected the quiches and took them to the church.  He phoned me to say the church was locked, no-one there.  I phoned the organiser - she WAS there, the doors were unlocked, and she said she'd go outside to find my husband's car.
Phoning B back to tell him, discovered he'd gone to the wrong church!!!  Why was I not surprised?  He'd taken them to the Foodbank (held in a Methodist Chapel).  Anyway, all sorted and they got delivered. 

We had another electricity cut last night, just as I sat down to write my blog, so went to bed instead of waiting to see when it came on again. 
B is working again this morning, and as I was to make a cake to take to the Sp. church this afternoon (for their coffee morning tomorrow), went to switch the oven on.  The timer was flashing, not re-set after the leccy cut (B always resets it for me as I don't know how to do it), so the oven wouldn't then work.  Eventually I managed to get it working and the cake has been made.

This morning, when sitting down to write my blog, the computer took AGES to sort itself out - again due to the leccy cuts.  But seems OK now.  Phew.  Don't want any more problems thank you.

Quite a few comments to reply to, so here goes....
Yes Jane, I do remember that 'sausage wrap' but can't quite remember how to do it.  I'll look up the method (it's in one of my books, might be in Goode For One), and will then let you know.

It's amazing how much more expensive chicken joints are compared to the same (by weight) from a whole chicken that has been jointed at home.  So, buttercup, whenever you see fresh chickens on offer (sometimes 3 for £10...) worth buying them, jointing them up (wrap/freeze separately or they tend to stick together) and use the carcases for making stock. 
The winglets I tend to collect in one bag as these make excellent stock without the need for a carcase, so useful in the future when (horrors!) I've run out of chicken stock. I NEVER want to run out of that.

Think my favourite patchwork pattern was the log cabin, as this used strips of material, and not sure what the 'whirlygig' looks like.  jAnother favourite of mine is 'Cathedral Window', this mainly plain material folded (so no backing needed), and small pieces of coloured material sewn into spaces that have been formed.  I really looks very pretty, and a great way to use up old (plain) sheets and very small pieces of material.

Well remember that huge sea surge in 1953 Sairy.  This was due to exceptional high tides and gales blowing the sea onto the land.  We have a large book written about it, and in Blakeney there is a marker on the wall to show how high up the sea came.  Good to hear about the parade in honour of those American servicemen who helped with the rescues.

A welcome to Christine K, who is asking about the size of 'dripping tins'.  In the old days, when huge joints of beef were turned on a spit, there would be a large tray set on the ground below to catch all the melted fat (aka dripping) and the meat juices.   Today we roast the (smaller) joints in the oven and choose a roasting tin that is the right size.  Best to roast the meat on a grid that sits on the base of the pan, then it doesn't sit in the drippings, but it doesn't really matter. 
My mother used to roast her joint on a rack and about 45 minutes before the meat was ready, would pour off most of the fat, and replace the tin/meat in the oven, pouring Yorkshire pudding batter into the tin below the meat.  Any meat juices that dripped would then go into the Yorkie and make it taste lovely.
Today we normally make Yorkshire's separately, and there are special four-section tins for this purpose, but often I use a shallow sponge cake tin to make a larger one, especially when serving with a beef casserole as the meat/gravy can then be spooned inside.
For Toad in the Hole, I would use a fairly shallow 8"/20cm square tin, but the size really depends on how many people you wish to serve.  Part cook the sausages in the tin, pour of some of the fat before pouring the batter over but ALWAYS make sure the fat is very hot before doing that, otherwise the batter ends up with a soggy bottom.

Thanks Eileen for your memories.  Vaguely remember Cremola Foam, at least the name, don't think I've ever had any. 

Thanks also to londonlass to whom we give a welcome.  Think tripe was traditionally a Yorkshire meal, as well remember 'tripe and onions' being mentioned when we lived in Leeds.  In Leeds market there is a stall that sells only tripe, and believe there are four different types (tripe coming from a cow's stomach, that has four 'compartments'.

Think that today the only way we can be sure of buying skirt beef is from a local butcher, and then probably has to be ordered.  My butcher in Leeds told me that it is their favourite cut of beef, so the butchers themselves tend to take it home to cook/eat, and this is why it isn't on sale very often.

As to junket.  My mother made it often and how I hated it.  Every time my spoon went into it, it split up into curds and whey.  She didn't seem to flavour it, although maybe did add a bit of sugar, I can't remember, but have never eaten it since, although have used the same process to make soft cheese (after breaking it up and draining it).

Interesting that you like Pear's soap Margie.  My mother used to think it was wonderful, but it was too hard for me (didn't soften when it water), don't think it made too many bubbles either. Supposed to be good for the skin, and am pleased (for your sake) that you have been able to find a source. Myself tend to use Johnson's Baby Soap, not for any particular reason, just like the smell.  I use their baby talc too.  Perhaps brings back memories of having babies of my own.

The weather has really turned.  So cold now compared to a few days ago, and half a gale at the weekend that has brought down a lot of leaves.  B is asking if we can have the central heating on for a bit during the evening.  Not sure whether he'll get any benefit as he tends to spend most of each evening in this room watching 'his' TV (and no heating in this room - other than a gas fire that has not yet been used).
Tonight he'll definitely be in here as there is a footie match on.  Was going to make him some Fork Biscuits to snack on, but didn't as I was cross with him for not re-setting the oven before he left this morning (I hadn't then been in the kitchen). He obviously knew it had to be done, you couldn't miss the light flashing on and off to remind that it wasn't working.  He always HAS done it without being asked, but the day I need the oven he ignored it.  Men!!

Anyway, that's it for today.   Sorry no time to give recipes - am at the church this afternoon, then preparing B's supper, then settling down for the night and planning an early night.  With B in here no opportunity to use the comp (he doesn't like me using it when he is watching TV).

If feeling back to normal, will be writing again tomorrow.  If not may take the day off.  Expect me when you see me.  TTFN.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Gone But Not Forgotten...

A welcome to essexgran who remembers Kunzle cakes.  How can we forget them? They were so special and absolutely gorgeous.

Many prefer to 'live for the day', others look to the future.  Myself enjoy past memories.  Does that make me a sad old lady?  Perhaps.
However, many foods and other products that we loved - or even hated - seem to have disappeared, so it would be interesting to hear from my lovely readers other names they remember..  Maybe then could find a recipe so that we could have a go at making the foodie ones ourselves.

My mother always used to have a box of bloaters sent from Great Yarmouth to arrive home (in Leicester) after our holidays in Norfolk.  These I believe are a bit like kippers but not dried.  These were eaten by my parents, so don't recall ever being given any, and wonder if herrings are still  processed in the same way today.
The fish called 'snoek' - sold during World War II - is best forgotten.  Believe it was whale meat, but could be wrong.

During the war when sweets were rationed, we children would go to the chemist and buy Ovaltine tablets to suck.  Not sure what the real purpose they were made for, but they did make a good sweet substitute.  Doubt these are made today.
Don't let us forget Zambuk.   Beecham's Pills.  Vim.  Omo.   Cherry Blossom Boot Polish....a there must be other non-edibles that were really good.  Do they still sell carbolic soap today?  My mother used to buy this for scrubbing the kitchen floor - think it came in big yellow blocks.

Mum also used to buy Pear's soap for washing me when I was small.  Think it was Pear's, the tablets were oval, darkish pink in colour and clear, looking a lot like very solid jelly.  I hated it.  For herself she preferred Knight's Castile soap.  These two may still be sold today.

In my late teens there was Helena Rubenstein's Silk Face powder, and I did buy some and it was very special. Or at least it made me feel special.
Max Factor Pan-stick was my chosen 'base' and boy, was that a mistake.  I would spread it on my face and a few hours later the once pale 'undercoat' changed to a deeper orange.  Never did get 'make-up' right.  After marriage tended to hardly wear any, just a bit of lipstick and a dab of powder, and like to think that is why I've hardly any lines on my face now (although that probably is due to me being overweight rather than for any other reason).

There are lots of foods bought/cooked/eaten in my youth that can still be bought today, but usually have to be ordered from a butcher, and not all can provide them.  Capons (castrated cockerels; boiling fowls; pig's heads, pig's ears, pigs trotters.
Beef skirt is now hard to obtain, and also tripe (but who would want that anyway?).  Apart from liver and kidneys, the other offal:  brains, sweetbreads, heart, lungs (aka lights), and other unmentionables are now mainly forgotten about but probably the most nourishing and cheap because no-one wants them. 

The squash family (marrows, butternut, pumpkins etc), all store well once harvested.  In fact they will keep for months until cut - then need to be used up.
With Hallow'een on the horizon we could be planning to buy a pumpkin, and suppose we could stick black paper on a pumpkin to make a face (eyes, nose, mouth) leaving it uncut.  More likely we will be carving it out to make a hole in the centre to place a candle and cut the facial features out throught the peel so the light can shine through.

Believe it or not, some people throw away the pumpkin 'innards'.  You don't do you?  Here is a recipe for pumpkin soup, and while you are preparing it, save those seeds as they can be washed, roasted and eaten as 'snacking seeds'.
If you have a very large pumpkin and wish to use up all the flesh for soup, then freeze the surplus, garnishing it after thawing and reheating.

Pumpkin Soup: serves 6
4 tblsp olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2lb 2oz (1kg) pumpkin, peeled/seeded, chopped
1.5 pints (700ml) chicken or vegetable stock
salt and pepper
5 fl oz (150ml) double cream
4 slices granary bread, crusts removed
handful pumpkin seeds
Heat half the oil in a large saucepan and gently fry the onions for 5 minutes until softened, then add the chunks of pumpkin and cook for a further 8 -10 minutes, stirring often, until the flesh begins to soften and turn a golden colour.
Add the stock to the pan with seasoning to taste, then bring to the boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes until the pumpkin is very soft.  Stir in the cream and bring back to the boil, then remove from heat and blitz to a puree using a stick blender directly in the pan, or using a food processer.
While the soup is cooking, cut the bread into small croutons.  Put the remaining oil in a frying pan and fry the bread until it begins to crisp.  Add the pumpkin seeds and cook for a few minutes longer.
Reheat the soup if necessary, check seasoning, then serve in individual soup bowls, scattering croutons and the pumpkin seeds on top.

Whether we live alone, or maybe can't afford to buy meat this week, if we have sausages we can still make a meal by removing the skins and either rolling the meat into meatballs (fry in a pan and then serve with a good tomato sauce and pasta), or make 'burgers' with the meat (adding extra ingredients to make it good further - such as onions, breadcrumbs, herbs....).

Here is a recipe for a quick sausage bolognaise, and allowing two sausages per person, easy to adapt to feed just one or the four intended with this recipe.  Makes sense to use the best sausages we can afford - and, sadly, these can sometimes work out at up to 40p EACH.  So keep an eye open for offers and then freeze them for later use.  If sold in packs, don't freeze the pack as it will then be difficult to separate the sausages if you only need one or two,  open-freeze separately before bagging them up, then you can use as little or as many as you wish.
Goes without saying that we can make our own tomato 'pasta' sauce if we wish.

Although we often call sausages 'bangers' (whatever the quality), they were called this during World War II when the sausages were made with very little meat plus a lot of bread, water  and other things we'd probably rather not know about (my mother swore she found a mouse's tooth in a sausage).  When fried in a pan, these sausages would burst out of their skins (explode), hence the name 'bangers'.   I use this name just because it begins with a B as does the Bolog.

Banger's Bolognaise: serves 4
8 good sausages, skins removed
1 tsp fennel seeds (opt)
9 oz (250g) mushrooms, sliced
5 fl oz (150ml) red wine (opt)
1 x 660g jar tomato pasta sauce
10 oz (300g) pasta penne or other pasta shapes
grated Parmesan cheese (opt)
Heat a large frying pan, the crumble in the sausage meat.  No need to add any oil as some will come out of the sausage, break it up with a fork as it cooks.  Add the fennel seeds and fry for a few minutes until the meat is golden and the fat is released.  Stir constantly to break up the meat as much as possible.
Add the mushrooms and continue frying for a few minutes until these are beginning to soften, then stir in the wine (if using).  Let it bubble away for a minute then add the tomato pasta sauce.  Bring to the boil, reduce heat and let it simmer, uncovered to reduce down the liquid.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta as per packet instructions, and when ready, drain well and add to the 'bolognaise' sauce mixture.  Mix well until the pasta is completely coated with the sauce, then serve in individual dishes, sprinkling the tops with a little Parmesan (if using).

While thinking sausages, here is another recipe where we can use these - again with skins removed. A recipe for onion marmalade was given just a few days ago.  The skins are left on the apples so the dish looks more attractive if red apples are used, but green ones are OK.
Although lovely eaten with potato (as given), the meatballs-in-sauce would also eat well spooned over couscous or other cooked grain such as rice.

Fruity Pork Meatballs: serves 4
10 oz (300g) good sausages, skins removed
1 small onion, grated or finely chopped
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
3 tblsp caramelised onion marmalade (see above)
half pint (300ml) hot vegetable stock
2 red eating apples, cored and thickly sliced
mash or jacket potatoes for serving
Put the sausage meat into a bowl with the onion and herbs and mix well together (best done with clean hands).  Then wet the hands and form the mixture into 16 meat balls.
Heat a large, non-stick frying pan  (no need to add oil) and brown the meatballs over high heat (shaking the pan so the balls roll around to colour all over - this should take about 2 - 3 minutes.
Stir in the onion marmalade, the stock, and the apples, and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes until the meatballs and apples are cooked and the sauce has thickened.
Spoon these over a base of mashed potato or inside a split jacket potato.

That's it for today, and as I'll be taking the weekend off (maybe even Monday) due to all the cooking I'll be doing, it will be 'expect me when you see me' (hopefully Monday, definitely Tuesday). 

A thanks to Sheridan for her comment re the temperature in Australia.  Not too different from the day temperatures down south here in the UK, but the other side of the world heating up for their summer, while we are now chilling down for our winter.   Cold air is now pushing in from the northwest, and this next week might be the last we have of a good, gentle, and extremely lovely autumn.   We haven't had such good weather all year for decades, the best September on record it is said.  Other parts of the world have not been so lucky.  This year our turn to have been blessed. 

Enjoy the weekend before the weather breaks, and please keep sending in comments, they really cheer me up.  Because I have a 'reader counter' I know the daily/weekly numbers are constant (and rising), but it is lovely to have real 'contact' with you, almost (but not quite) as good as having a proper one-to-one chat with you over coffee and cakes at my kitchen table.
Suppose, in the future, people will be able to 'skype' when blogging and actually see a reader who wishes to make visual contact at that moment of writing.   Just as well we can't do that or you'd soon be fed up with me - I can never stop talking once started!  TTFN.


Thursday, October 02, 2014

Chill in the Air..

Definitely a lot cooler, although wall to wall blue sky all day, almost a touch of frost in the air this evening.  I can smell it!  Breathing it the cold air as I went into the bedroom, catches the back of my throat.  Must bring the geraniums in this weekend.  They are lined up by the side of the garage wall at the moment where they are protected by the reserved heat the south-facing wall soaked up during today, so should be OK.  Tonight there is clear sky and a bright (half) moon.  That is when frosts strike.  We don't get frosts on cloudy nights - at least don't think so.

Thanks to all who sent in comments. It was lovely to have them to read.  First reply is a welcome to Nell, who enjoys my blog.  Hope you keep on reading and would love to hear from you again.

Never heard of bread being added to Shepherd's Pie Jane, although am sure that many cooks used to add breadcrumbs to many dishes to help eke out the meat and also give body to a dish, and some books do have recipes using bread(crumbs), but not for that particular dish.

A memory has come flooding back as I write.  My mother used to, and I always did run a slice of bread or the crust through the mincing machine once the meat had been minced as this is an excellent way of cleaning it - although of course it still needs washing, just gets rid of any meat that still sticks to the insides.  Am sure we used to add this to the minced meat due to the bits of meat mixed into it, so maybe that is what happens.

As I've had a butternut squash in my 'onion' basket for months Margie (and these do keep for months if uncut), also some sweet potatoes, think I'll make some soup with those.  Don't have turnip, but do have parsnips so will add those as well.  That's tomorrow night's supper sorted!
Must have a go at making mushroom risotto (for me) as Tesco now sell family 'Value' packs of mushrooms that were normally white, but now chestnuts - these much nicer as they are firm, last longer than the whites, and very 'meaty'.
Once sliced - for frying etc - they don't collapse and soak up fat like the 'whites', they remain firm but do absorb flavours quite well.  Like to add them to the pan when I've been frying meat, as can then use less meat.  Works well when making Stroganoff.

Thankfully Eileen, due to me ordering on-line, I don't get to see all the sweets and Christmas 'goodies' that now seem to be piling up on the supermarket shelves.  However I usually do order one box of Quality Street or Roses as a treat for B.  Myself use the tin for storing things, only now rarely do they pack the chocs in tins, this now made of strong cardboard (which is also good for storing).
In the kitchen have several tall plastic bottle that Christmas chocs used to be sold in, these now hold pasta penne, caster sugar.... am always on the look out for more.
At one time we used to be able to buy (very cheaply) the big glass jars that held sweets in a proper sweetshop, but these were very heavy so later got rid of them preferring the plastic ones.

Interesting to hear Granny G, that now our shopping habits are changing to 'little and often'.  Myself still send one on-line order once a month to Tesco, although B does sometimes bring in a few things from Morrison's for me when he goes.
Up until we moved to Leeds (1969) shopping was always 'little and often', as it was usual then to go to the local shops (no supermarkets at that time - although there was a Woolco if I remember), and buy fresh food for the evening meal.  This almost daily although we were lucky to have a baker deliver three or four times a week, a greengrocer twice a week, milkman six days a week, even a butcher and a fishmonger would deliver, but I tended to prefer to buy meat/fish/poultry from the respective shops.
It was a bit of a shock when we arrived in Leeds and found the only deliveries would be the milk (although the milkman also carried cheese, cream, yogurt, butter, orange juice, lemonade, and potatoes, as well as several types of milk).  We had a shopping parade a few hundred yards from where we lived, and at that time it was old-style with a sweet shop, haberdashers, two butchers, a greengrocer who also sold fresh fish, a bakery/tea rooms, a toy shop, a fish and chip shop.  A newsagents with the Post Office at the back of it, a shoe shop, a cobbler's, a Sketchley laundry, and a Lipton's grocers, also a Co-op grocery fairly close by.  Oh yes, a betting shop on one corner. Other shops that were of no interest to me (clothing, building societies, estate agents, travel agents...)

There was even a small branch of the then Midland Bank where my money was saved (not that often), and compared to today was so old-fashioned. I would go in with a small amount of cash to save (or draw out), and my account would be in a big ledger where the man behind the counter would carefully write in the details using a proper pen and ink while I stood and waited.

Pleased you enjoy my tales of yesteryear Mandy, my thoughts are now often in that direction, perhaps because I prefer the old days, the old ways to many of the new (although I give thanks every time I use my washing machine.  Years of having to wash and wring out (by hand) clothes for four children (and husband), and having the first three children so quickly - our son not quite three when the third was born - you can imagine the amount of nappies that had to be washed.  No disposables in those days, just terry nappies and same-size muslin nappies we used as liners.  Every day the washing line was full.

Am trying to remember what type of clothes the children wore when tiny.  Vests were made of 'chilprufe' material, and they had very clever necks where the front and backs overlapped at the shoulders.  This made them very easy to slip on over tiny heads without leaving a wide amount of next to get cold.
Vyella and Clydella were two materials especially good for frocks/shirts as this too was warm to the touch, probably a mixture of wool and cotton.  Do remember a silkish sort of fabric called 'shantung', it was made of silk but a bit coarse as it had roughish bits in it.  Difficult to wash silk, so hardly ever used it.

There was no baby-grow in those days, so the babies wore nighties made from Vyella I think, and in cold weather they would also be put into a sleeping bag that folded up at the bottom, fastened with buttons.  These of course got damp due to the rubber/plastic knickers worn over nappies never really holding in all the wetness.  That meant more washing and being thicker material took longer to dry.

Cot bedding was usually Vyella sheets with one or two blankets on top,usually cellular ones as these kept in the warmth, then tucked in with a fairly light quilt on top.  Bedrooms then had no central heating so we used to warm the beds first with a hot water bottle, nighties and pyjamas would be warmed on the nursery fire-guard in front of the fire, and after a warm bath, be dressed in these and then straight into bed, tucked up nice and warm ready to listen to the bed-time story, where they were usually fast asleep before I got to the end.  Little ones would have lullabies sung to them.

That toffee you are making sounds lovely Ali. Myself love Werthers Original toffee but due to me being diabetic (below the level now but still try not to eat much sugar) had stopped eating them. Recently discovered they make Werthers Original sugar-free, and so allowed to eat those. Have to say they are rather small, but it's lovely to have the real toffee taste without the need to feel guilty.

Food memories are a bit vague, but do recall some wonderful Kunzle cakes that my mother used to send me to buy from the local cake-shop.  Think they were like elaborate Bridge Fancies, small iced cakes, maybe with a type of truffle inside, and chocolate and icing coatings. Anyone remember these?
There were also large cakes sold at the same shop, can't remember the name but they had a lovely icing, think it was called 'American Frosting', sort of firm on top (like royal icing) but softer underneath, like marshmallow.   Today's easy-to-roll-out fondant icing is not the same.  In fact I really dislike eating fondant icing, it is far too sweet and would be better if much more thinly rolled. Give me royal icing any day. 
Not sure if people make royal icing any more, but if they/you do, one way to make it easy to cut (as it can get very hard), is to add a very few drops of glycerine into the icing when beating it.  The icing will still set firmly, but can much more easily be cut through with a knife.

Always on the look-out for 'healthy' baking, came across the following and thought it fitted the bill. Although the biscuits, once cooked, are best not frozen (they will keep for a few days in an airtight container), the uncooked dough can be frozen.
Walnuts are now one of nature's 'wonder-foods', said to help lower cholesterol, as do oats, so a double whammy with these cookies.  Use sultanas if you haven't raisins (or no-soak apricots or dates, also chopped).
I don't have rolled oats in my larder - unless this means what I call porridge oats.  So I use porridge oats. They work.  Oats are oats are oats after all (Scots would not agree).

Walnut and Raisin Oatcakes:  makes 40
half teaspoon baking powder
4 tblsp milk
6 oz (175g) softened butter
4 oz (100g) caster sugar
11 oz (300g) rolled oats (see above)
5 oz (140g) wholemeal flour
2 oz (50g) raisins, roughly chopped
2 oz (50g) walnuts, roughly chopped
Dissolve the baking powder in the milk.  Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, then mix in the oats, flour, raisins, walnuts and milk to make a stiff dough.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to about 1cm thick.  Cut into circles using a 5cm scone cutter (or cut square ones or fingers if you prefer). 
Place on a greased baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes at 180C, gas 4 until lightly golden.  Leave to cool on the tin before removing.   Eat the day of making or store in an airtight tin for up to 3 days before serving.

As so often happens, another recipe catches my eye when some ingredients are the same (or could be) as another I've chosen to give. It is useful to be able to make something completely different at the same time when the oven is at the same temp..  This tea loaf can be frozen when cooked and cooled.

Date and Walnut Tea Loaf: serves 10-12
7 oz (200g) stoned dates, chopped
pinch of salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
half a pint (300ml) hot water
10oz (280g) self-raising flour
4 oz (100g) butter, chopped into small pieces
2 oz (50g) chopped walnuts
4 oz (100g) dark muscovado sugar
1 egg, beaten
2 tblsp Demerara sugar
Put the dates, salt, and bicarb into a large bowl and add the hot water. Stir well and leave until cold.
Place the flour in another bowl and add the butter, rubbing together until like breadcrumbs. Stir in the walnuts and dark sugar until well combined.
Tip the flour mixture and egg into the dates, beating well to mix, then pour into a fully greased and lined (base and long sides) lined 2lb (1kg) loaf tin.  Give a shake to level the top, then sprinkle the Demerara sugar evenly over the surface.
Bake at 180C, gas 4 for 1hr - 1hr 15mins (or until a skewer comes out clean).  Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
For best results, after cooling, wrap in baking parchment or clingfilm, then overwrap in foil before storing in an airtight container.  Keep for a couple of days before eating. 

Almost midnight, and there is a late prog on TV that I want to watch, so think I'll not have an early night.  Not a lot to do tomorrow other than my usual coffee morning with my neighbour and getting B's supper.  My bakeathon starts (mainly prep) on Saturday, then Sunday, and also Monday.  This should mean I'll manage to fit in a blog tomorrow some time.  Hope you can join me then.  TTFN.


Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Now it's October....

One of the few days when no comments have arrived for me to answer.  However, I will try to find something to talk about.  First is a mention of the Cottage Pie made yesterday for B.  Asked him today what he thought about it (my version was 'dreadful') and he said it was lovely, and he'd like me to make it again for him.As it happens I'd made enough for two meals so one has been frozen.

Reason why I disliked it was the texture.  In the 'old days' my mother would mince up cold beef from the Sunday joint to make Cottage Pie, and as the shredding disc part of my food processor has broken, I had to crumb the sliced cooked beef I wanted to use.  It really did end up as fine crumbs, and even though I mixed these into a pan of fried onions, plus a little gravy (thickened) and a dash of HP sauce, it was more like baby food.  Not to my taste at all.

Perhaps, even worse, I topped the Cottage Pie using instant potato.  B has always said he dislikes this, but decided to make it anyway - with milk, butter, and plenty of seasoning.  Once piled onto the meat I knew it would crisp up in the oven, although B's choice was to re-heat in the microwave and then pop it under the grill to brown.  I'd suggested he might like to sprinkle grated cheese on top before grilling, and did hear him grating some cheese, and suppose this did add extra flavour to the potato. Anyway, he liked it and that's all that matters.

Today I remembered I had a very old mincing machine that belonged to B's mother, never used it myself, but am sure it will work just as well now as it did then.  Still have a lot of sliced beef (now frozen), and next time will try mincing it properly. 

Now that I can't grate cheese using the food processor, do it the old way using my mother's grater, and having seen the same type/shape in a book of antique 'kitchenalia' am wondering if she used it before I was born.  But it still works which is more than can be said of more recent graters that have now gone blunt.

Trouble with grating by hand, I have to be careful of my thumb knuckle as more than once a bit of it has ended up in the grated cheese. Pity they don't make metal protectors for thumbs like they make thimbles for fingers.

Tonight B had his favourite Fish Risotto.  It really does taste wonderful, mainly because I take the trouble to make it correctly.  Like all cooks/chefs I do taste as I cook, checking the seasoning etc, and today I wished it was me eating the risotto.  One day I will make enough for both of us. 

I've noticed in Italian restaurants that risotto is never on the menu (or at least not in the restaurants I've visited).  This probably because this dish needs to be cooked to order and it will take half an hour from start to table, making this one of the very best dishes to serve at home because we are unlikely to be able to order it when dining out.

Today is the 1st of October, and the newspaper today says that already mince pies are appearing on supermarket shelves despite there being 12 weeks to go before Christmas.  But like Hot Cross Buns, do mince pies ever disappear?  Some seasonal 'treats' seem to be sold most of the year. 

Am not wishing to think Christmas at the moment, although now it will be cooler up towards the northern part of the country, the south still keeping fairly warm during the day.  We also will be getting strong winds, this will bring down the remaining leaves on the trees, not to mention the last of the apples.  In a week or so the clocks will go back to GMT and time to pack away summer clothes and bring out the warmer ones.

That's what we USED to do in my youth, winter clothes packed away, many with mothballs as quite a lot of winter clothes contained wool (and how warm they kept us).  Now it seems that, due to central heating, cars with heaters etc, many of the clothes we wear are suitable all year round.

My concession to winter clothing is to bring out the long sleeved sweaters, but still keep sleeveless and short-sleeved T shirts to hand as they can be worn as vests under the jumpers.  Do ladies wear vests these days?   Do children wear Liberty bodices any more?  I wore those, my girls wore those, and they had rubber buttons. 

Still knitting and crocheting am remembering my youth (again) when wool was sold in hanks and I'd sit for ages holding these in my hands, arms outstretched, while my mother used to wind the wool in balls.  In those days it was wool, and how soft it felt compared to the yarn sold today.  Wool is still sold but SO expensive, nearly £4 a ball (the yarn is under £2).

What I have noticed is that with many of the balls of yarn I'm using, these contain knots.  One ball I had had three knots, and I thought this might be because I bought the yarn from the 'reduced price' basket.  When I mentioned it to Gill, she said she has had knots in the fully priced yarn and wool that she has bought and used, so standards are slipping.  Perfection is disregarded these days.  Or we have to pay over the odds for it.

Think I've now made enough squares to stitch together to make a throw, just need to lay them out to make an attractive pattern.  It would - of course - been cheaper for me to buy a throw, but I don't care - it is so nice to be able to pick up where I left off.  Many years ago I seemed to be always knitting, and although then I couldn't crochet, it is never too late to learn. 

In times past, nothing was wasted.  Worn out clothes/materials were washed and then cut up to make patchwork quilts and cushions, heavier fabrics (coats etc) were turned into rag rugs. 
Although my mother didn't make clothes or quilts, she always saved worn out sheets, shirts etc, and these would be torn up and put into her 'rag bag', used with polish for shoes, shining silver, cleaning windows etc.
Old jumpers would be carefully unstitched and unravelled, the kinks in the wool washed out and after drying would be knitted up into something else.
My dad had a shoe 'last', and would sole and heel our shoes himself, and - during the war - would cut up old rubber car tyres to use for the soles/heels.

Older readers will remember the lovely nylon stockings that came into fashion after the war.  These were 'fully fashioned' with a seam stitched up the back, and often very sheer.  Many had patterned heel.  At that time nylons were very expensive, some could be £1 a pair, and so easily could become laddered if a thread was caught (maybe by a broken fingernail).  We used to be able to take the laddered stocking/s to a dry cleaners (maybe Sketchley's?) where a girl would sit in the window, using a very tiny crochet hook, and from the bottom of the ladder would painstakingly hook up the loop over each strand until she reached the break, then would stitch it closed. 
If we managed to catch a ladder before it began to 'run', a dab of nail varnish would anchor it, or even a bit of soap left to dry on the break. 

Before the war stocking were mainly lisle or rayon, also worn years after, nylons kept just for 'best'. The stocking came in many shades of brown (as well as black), and it made sense to always buy the same shade so that when one laddered, the remaining one could be matched with the rest.
When left with a pile of stockings of various shades of brown, we used to put them in a pan of water on the stove and boil them up,  the dye probably wasn't fixed at that temperature, so the stockings would then end up all the same shade.

Men's socks, often hand-knitted using four knitting needles (stitches held on three, one to knit with), would be made from wool, and soon the heels would wear out.  Many hours have I spent darning the heels of socks, and got quite good at it.  Darning  I found enjoyable, though have little or no reason to do it these days.  Not quite true, just remember I've darned the heels of my support stockings more than one, thankfully still having kept my wooden darning 'mushroom'.

One recipe today, worth filing away ready for Hallow-een/Bonfire night.  A box of these also good to give away as a gift at Christmas. 
Only four ingredients - how good is that?  Use a darker sugar if you want a more 'treacly' flavour, and jumbo oats if you want a crunchier finish.
If you have half a lemon (well you just might), then use this, cut side down, to press the mixture into the tin and level the surface.  This also helps to give a subtle lemon flavour to the flapjack.

Oat Flapjacks: serves 12
6 oz (175g) butter, diced
5 oz (140g) golden syrup
2 oz (50g) light muscovado sugar
9 oz (250g) porridge oats
Put the butter, sugar, and syrup into a medium saucepan.  Stir over a low heat until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved.   Remove from heat and stir in the oats.
Line the base of a shallow 9" (23cm) square tin with baking parchment, then press the above mixture into the tin, levelling the surface.
Bake at 180C, gas 4 for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown on top.  Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then - while still warm - mark into bars or squares with the back of a knife.  Leave to cool in the tin completely before cutting through and removing.   If removed while still warm the flapjack will break up.

That's it for today, busy weekend coming up but am hoping I'll be able to drop in for the daily chat over the next couple of days, then will have to take both Saturday and Sunday off to bake for the Harvest Supper (Monday), and also make cakes for a meeting on Tuesday.  Being of some use to someone helps to keep me feeling young(er).  TTFN.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Pre-supper Chat

Not my usual time to blog, but as I've just returned from the church meeting, and B's supper is already to re-heat in the oven and get a crusty top (Cottage Pie), thought I'd write now so that I could go to bed early if I wished.  With footie on TV tonight, this room won't be free until after 10.00pm.

Got up early this morning so managed to work through quite a lot, in fact had 'cleared my desk' (in other words done all on my list) by 11.00am, so decided to sit and do some knitting, with the TV on so that I could part watch/listen to first The Waltons, followed by 'Little House....'   then half a hour of BBC news.  Pleased to discover that I'd managed to knit a whole square (for my throw) in that time (first putting 40 stitches on the needle, not sure how many rows, then casted off).  Tonight, after my own supper (salad with seasticks - or shall I have hummous and crudités?) then might manage to knit and/or crochet another couple of squares.  Think already have made nearly 30 squares so soon be time for me to lay them out to make an interesting pattern and find out if I need more of a certain colour before finally crocheting/stitching them all together.

My Beloved is helping his upholstery friend occasionally, and I've asked for any offcuts of foam that he may have so that I can cut them up into little pieces to stuff my cushions.  These have been promised to me, so that means very shortly hope to have at least six knitted cushion covers to scatter onto the two couches. 

Am sure you are right Jane, as my back pain could be caused by different posture, not so much caused by my knee, but the fact I've lost about a stone over the past few weeks, and in the past have found this tends to change my balance slightly.  The aches and pains are not too bad, just an occasional twinge.

In the past my mother always used to send me to the butchers/grocers to buy Wiltshire cured back bacon, number 4.  The number was the thinness of the slices as in those days the sides of bacon were always hung on hooks in the shops, brought down and then placed on the slicer to be cut to the width the customer wanted.  The flavour (and smell when cooking) was absolutely gorgeous and although I have - several times - bought Wiltshire bacon (pre-sliced and packed), it is nothing like I remember.

It's a small world.  There is Anna, now living in France, who remembers well Berkswell, Warwick Castle, and the ice-cream sold in Henley-in-Arden.  Too much of a difference in our ages no doubt for our paths to have crossed, but it is good to know that people recognise places I talk about.

One place I don't think I've yet mentioned is where my parents often used to take me on picnics when I was small (pre-war).  It was a place called Yarningale Common, and all I remember was there were quite a few trees, bushes and scrubs, with clearances where we would sit on the ground to have our picnic.  Can't say it was my most favourite place, and expect now it has been built over.  Not even sure where it is/was.  Anyone know?

As you know, each time I make bread (using a 500g bread mix) I always add half as much weight again (250g) using strong plain bread flour.  Plus half as much water again, although I tend to use half milk, half water and to save me working out exactly how much more liquid I need, find that 500ml is exactly the right amount.

The dough is made in my bread machine, and after the 45 minutes (when the dough is ready and risten) I remove it from the pan and remove one third - the two-thirds I place in a greased and floured loaf tin, slightly larger than the standard 2lb loaf tin.  The remaining dough I make into small rolls.

However, this extra dough can also make pizza bases, so I could make several rolls and still have enough dough left to make one medium sized pizza.  Here is a recipe worth making when we have the spare dough (freeze it and make it later if you wish.

As always, alter the toppings to suit what you wish to use (get rid of in other words), and use this recipe as a guide.  Myself prefer to first fry the onion slightly then scatter this on top of the tomato puree mixture before adding the tuna, etc.  Also omit the rocket because usually I have none.
Tuna, Olive & Rocket Pizza: serves 2
Enough bread dough to make a pizza base
2 tblsp tomato puree
2 tblsp water
salt and pepper
1 x 185g can tuna in oil, drained (reserve oil)
1 tblsp capers
1 x 125g ball mozzarella
10 black olives, pitted and halved
1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
small handful rocket
Mix together the tomato puree, water, seasoning to taste, and the oil from the canned tuna.  Then roll out the dough on a floured board to make two fairly thin pizzas base (or one large thicker if that is your preference), then place the bases on an oiled baking tray.
Spread the dough with the tomato puree mixture, then top with flaked tuna, capers, cheese and the olives.  Bake at 240C, gas 9 for 10 - 15 minutes.  Serve scattered with the onion and the rocket.

We often see 'onion marmalade' suggested as an accompaniment to a pork (or other) dish. Not a true marmalade as we know it, and one that is normally made to be eaten within a day or two, not stored in jars in the larder.  As this relish would eat well with cheese, thought it worth given the recipe.  We can alter the flavour by using red onions instead of white, a different sugar, and maybe balsamic vinegar.  So worth having a play. 

Onion Marmalade: serves 4
1 lb (450g) onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1 oz (25g) butter
3 oz (75g) light muscovado sugar
4 fl oz (100ml) red wine vinegar
Put the onions and butter into a pan and fry gently for 10 minutes until softened and lightly browned. Stir in the sugar and vinegar.  Cook for approx. half an hour, stirring constantly, until the onions are slightly caramelised and very soft, and most of the liquid has evaporated.  Serve warm with roast pork, or cold with cheese.

Ten people at the meeting this afternoon, but nothing very interesting happened. Each week we have a raffle (we each bring a small gift), and as often it is packets of sweets or biscuits, I always bring one back for B to munch while he watched TV.  Unfortunately, my number was called last, so by the time I got to the table there was only a very tiny teapot, a small ceramic jar with china roses stuck on it, and a tube of foot balm.  None of these of any interest to either B or myself, so came away with nothing, so this evening he will have to make do with an after supper snack of cheese, biscuits, grapes.  That should be enough, he is having Cottage Pie and Apple Pie (with cream) for his main meal. 

Thinking about the way restaurants charge what to some of us are ginormous prices for dishes on their menu, suppose it is not that much different to paying hundreds (and that's the lower end of the price range) for shoes, handbags, and designer clothes.   Thing is, almost everything we do pay a lot for we can at least use again (and again, and again).  Once we have eaten a meal - that's it. Same, I suppose goes for a bottle of wine.

The bonus of home-cooked food - at least for the cook - is that the pleasure comes from creating something, and most people who do crafts are not interested in what they make, it is the MAKING  that brings the enjoyment, then put it aside and make something else, then something else.....
When we cook we don't have the meals left lying around, they get eaten, so it's even better - we can continually make, bake, and create.  This may seem a chore to some, certainly not to me - and most of my readers am sure feel the same. 

An interesting programme last night about the differences between men and woman.  Just about proved there were differences (monkeys proved this when given certain toys to play with - the makes interested only in things that had wheels, and the females in the dolls). Certainly men seem to see things more in black and white, while women see the many shades of grey (and I'm not thinking 50) between.  Also all the women seemed to be more creative, and enjoyed being so.  Not that men aren't creative, but on balance there definitely is a difference and almost certainly naturally built-in so that the genders complement each other.

Anyway, supper time so I'll take my leave.  Not sure what time I'll be blogging tomorrow, but should be back.  Weather still good, although France has not fared so well - they have had a LOT of rain in a very short time.  Just as long as it doesn't come our way.    Already looking forward to tomorrow's chat - so see you then.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Nostalgia Time....

Cannot believe how busy life is, every moment seems accounted for.  If not in the kitchen, then in another room sorting things, with some time spent in my 'sit-up-and-beg' chair watching TV (or listening to it), keeping my hands occupied with knitting cushion covers and crocheting squares to make a throw to keep me warm during the winter months.   Almost relieved to come in here now and sit down to relax and have a chat.

The 'Taste of Britain' prog the other day was a mite disappointing as the only bit of Berkswell we saw was a brewery and a farm where they made cheese.  However, the surrounding countryside looked unspoiled, and it was lovely to see Warwick Castle (where I had spent many happy hours when we lived in that area - during war-time).  My main delight, and I have to say it unlocked a memory that I had forgotten about since war began (1939) was the ice-cream shop in Henley in Arden where my parents used to take me occasionally because it was the best ice-cream in the area (probably still is today).  Seeing the shop and the buildings surrounding it brought it all back.  It was as if I was there again.

Berkswell was still haunting me, so I typed in 'Berkswell, Warwickshire' on Google Earth, and it brought up the area, with the name in two places as though there is now an upper and lower Berkswell.  When we over-night slept there it was a very tiny village. 
Closer look showed that the area had been built up with more modern property, and it wasn't easy to find where we used to stay, but I was determined, and decided to centre my search around the church as churches usually were the focal point of a village.   There was a little orange 'church' symbol on the map, on the northern part of Berkswell, and a closer view showed a road leading to it from the main road, passing by a small village green en route to the church (think the village road was called Church Lane).

Then clicked onto the little man to slide him down to the right-hand side of the green to get 'street view', and then it did look very familiar.  Was able to move the camera view to the right to see the building where I discovered I'd 'parked' right outside the village store - this being the little shop where we slept each night during the Coventry raids.  I nearly wept when I saw it.  It hadn't changed a bit, other than it looked a bit cleaner/whiter.  There are two little windows above the shop (that had, at that time, one long room over that was normally used as a store-room), and it was behind those windows I used to stand as a little girl and look across the green to the old houses that are still there now.  Truly a very old English village that doesn't seem to have changed for perhaps centuries - at least that part.  So if anyone wants to take a look, follow the directions above. 

Am having to gird my loins (if you will excuse the expression) ready for a busy weekend.  Next Monday will the church Harvest Supper.  Won't be going to that but have offered to make quiches for the buffet, and also cook fresh bread rolls to serve with the soup. Today was told the numbers are expected to be about 40.  Can cope with that easily, but it will need planning and a bit of organising so that I can deal with it.  Quiches are always best made several hours (or a day) before serving as this gives them time for the filling to settle (fresh quiches can sometimes be a bit 'spongy'.  The bases are always blind-baked (then brushed with beaten egg while still warm to fill in any cracks - returned to the oven until set, then left to get cold).  Can make these early Sunday.  Then bake the quiches later in the day/evening. 
Bread rolls will be baked during the day - in batches as will be making both brown and white.   Delivery will be late afternoon (they eat at 6.15pm), and will be told when someone will have opened the building to start laying the tables etc.
The next day (Tuesday) it will be my day/week to supply cake for the Wednesday afternoon 'tea and biscuits (incl. coffee and cake). 

That means this week I need to really clear the (kitchen) decks and make sure I have all the ingredients needed by Saturday (they have asked me to use free-range eggs, so B can get me some from M'sons, and I'll need at least 3 pints of double cream as well!!!).  I do have enough cheese, and short pastry in the freezer.  Plenty of bread mixes (both brown and white), so not a lot to get concerned over.

Your area of Canada seems to be having the same weather as we are having Margie.  Down south, particularly in the London area, we have been told the temperature will rise up to 23C, however it does cool down in the evenings, and some areas are getting a few autumn mists and fogs early morning.
Liked the sound of your sardines on toast Margie. That's how B likes to eat them.  Myself tend to mash them with a little vinegar and have them in sarnies.   As you say, simple is often best.

As you say Jane, restaurant food can be pricey and home-made is often as good, if not better.  Not sure about all readers, but myself enjoy eating out ONLY because someone else has done the cooking, so it is a treat. However, I always work out how much it would cost me to make what I've chosen from the menu, and - of course - it would always be cheaper.  But then we don't just pay for the food, it is the 'overheads' that add to the cost, including the skills of the chef.  As well as the ambience of the place and attentive waiters (here I'm thinking about quality/top restaurants).

In all honesty, there are places where the food is top quality, beautifully served, but not a lot of it, and remember around the time that 'nouvelle cuisine' came in,  B and I dined out in Harrogate where the portions were so small that after we had left the restaurant we went and bought fish and chips to satisfy our hunger.

Regarding the lack of fat on bacon, not sure about back bacon, but B and I prefer smoked streaky bacon, and - dare I say it - Tesco's cheapest streaky bacon has quite a bit of fat, with the rashers thin enough to crisp up beautifully.  We fry it over low heat to get the fat running free before we raise the heat slightly to crisp it up.  Have tried the more expensive 'dry-cured', and the different brands, but none taste as good or give out as much fat as the one mentioned above.    Readers am sure will have their own favourite cuts/brands.

It isn't that difficult to make our own un-smoked bacon.  Just buy a chunk of belly pork (if you want fat, choose a piece that has the most - and get the butcher to remove any bones).  Then 'cure' it with salt (details of 'how to' can be found on the internet).  I did try once, but forgot about the bones, so couldn't slice it on my slicing machine, so the 'rashers' ended up quite thick and not the right shape anyway, so I ended up using it as 'pancetta' (the little chunks of bacon fried and added to various dishes).  In any case we much prefer smoked bacon, and also smoked gammon (I do cook smoked gammon to then slice into ham).

Double crust fruit tarts, especially at this time of year, do make good eating, far preferable to cake. Not sure that I'm over-fond of cake anyway, prefer savouries, although offer me an éclair and I'd wolf it down.  In my opinion a gateau is more a dessert than a cake (such as Black Forest Gateau), and if I had a favourite plain cake it would be Lemon Drizzle, or gingerbread.

Incidentally, a tart always has a pastry base, but the filling is uncovered.  When it has a pastry lid (then called double-crust) it becomes a pie.   A quiches is a savoury tart.  Lemon Meringue Pie is really a 'tart'.  Treacle tart IS a tart. 
'Tarte Tatin' looks like a pie as the filling is covered with pastry, but as it is always served upside down, it then becomes a true tart.  But who cares?  Let's enjoy what we eat rather than bother about what it is called.

Those energy bars you have made sound good Alison.  We are told today that eating chocolate with high cocoa solid content (72% or over - I have some 85%) is good for us.  So maybe adding a little grated dark chocolate to the bars would make a change, or melt the choc and spread a little of the base of each bar. 
It is the oats in energy bars/flapjack that is also good for us, I sometimes add desiccated coconut when making these, also chopped non-soak apricots/dates/prunes....
Home-made toffee, yum-yum!  Was it golden toffee made, or treacle toffee?   People sometimes get mixed up between syrup and treacle, and in some recipes they could mean the same.  Myself always put golden syrup and/or black treacle when used in my recipes to show the difference.

There are very few store-cupboard foods that are still packed in the original style containers.  Bovril remains the same, Colman's dry mustard also.  Golden syrup and black treacle still in those iconic tins that don't seem to have changed since I was small.  When empty I wash the tins and use them to store pencils and things, the larger sizes I use to hold small plant pots. 
Have to admit I now often buy Tesco's own syrup as it is cheaper than the well-known brand. But that's life.

Am pleased that Downton Abbey is back on TV, especially as it is now set in the mid twenties (there was a mention of it being 1924 in the recent episode).  My mother would have been 22 then, and I can imagine her wearing some of the dress styles as worn by the younger members of the Grantham family. 
Today is the date of my father's birth, he being born in 1896 (died in 1973),. and have to say that these last few days have been very nostalgic for me, what with Downton reminding me of my mother in her youth, and Berkswell the war years. 

To the young generation of today, the 1920's would seem like distant history, to me it is as if I only just missed being there.   My dad remembered the first cars, the early flights of airplanes,  probably early radio, and my mother used to talk about 'silent movies'.  Electric gadgets were few and far between, as were cars.  Fridges only appeared in middle-class homes in the 50's, also TV (and that had a very small picture in black and white).  

In a way, count myself as very fortunate in that I've been able to live - and remember - times when people had very little compared to today, and realise just how much has happened in my own life-time.  If I include my dad's life, probably the first planes were bi-planes and flew very slowly (he used to fly these in World War I), and now we have sent rockets to the moon, men have walked on the moon, rockets sent and landed on Mars.....  Atom bombs, and nuclear bombs. Too much, too quickly, too soon.  Shouldn't we first learn to walk before we can run?

Just about midnight, so must toddle off to bed.  Cooking tomorrow morning (prepping B's supper etc) as will be off to the 'circle' meeting in the afternoon. Hope to be able to grab an hour to write my blog later that evening.  Finding time to fit everything in is becoming a bit of a problem.  But as I said before, am enjoying still being able to do things after many months of almost crippled with arthritis. The pain in my knee has just about gone, as have all the twinges that I had in my joints, just a slight stiffness in my knees after sitting too long, this wears off when moving around..  Muscle pain in my back at the moment probably due to lifting something heavy (that usually sets it off).  Without the bad back I would feel like a new woman, someone about 20 (maybe 30) years younger.  So can't grumble.

October starts this week (Wednesday?), so we will soon be putting the clocks back.  Then planning for Hallow'een, then the count-down to Christmas (with Guy Fawkes/Bonfire night in between for those who bother with it).   Enjoy the good weather while we have it.  TTFN.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Not Enough Hours....

Such a lot to do at the moment, so am hoping that you won't mind if I take a couple of days off (incl. today's blog), and return to you early next week.  Otherwise I won't catch up.  Early night needed as have to be at the surgery when it opens tomorrow (Sat.) morning for my flu jab.  Usually no reaction so no reason to slow me down.   Blame nature's bounty this autumn for keeping me busy (as well as knitting and crochet - have already knitted six cushion covers and nearly finished crocheting squares for a 'throw', but the more squares I do the more of me it will cover). 

Thanks for comments and will reply to these and any others that arrive over the weekend when I return on Monday.  With weather still set fair and around the 20C (warmer down south), want to take advantage of the good weather outdoors if I can (planting daffodil bulbs).

Even though I enjoy so much writing to you all, even more hearing from YOU, at the moment really feel I do need this short break to catch my breath, and know you will understand.  Hope you all have a lovely weekend.   TTFN.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Better to be Busy then Bored..

Just a quick blog as it is very late.  Too busy to blog earlier today, and am now very tired.  But happy with my lot.  Better to be busy than bored.

Just one comment sent in - this from Les.  Didn't say that statins were bad for us Les, but they don't suit everyone.  Doc warned B that if he had bad side effects after being described them he must stop taking them - and this did happen.  Other people too have had to stop because statins don't suit them.  Same can be said of many pills, I've had to stop taking one type of blood pressure pill because this was the one that caused the bad allergy I've written about previously, and I recently had to stop taking the pills prescribed as pain killers because these too had very bed side effects. 

There are several illnesses where people should take statins, the dietician just wanted me to take them to reduce high cholesterol.  I said I'd prefer to see if natural remedies worked, and after six months it proved they had (eating more foods that lowered cholesterol, taking lecithin etc...).

It's been another fair weather day after yesterday's rain.  Still loads of apples on the tree, now much more visible as they are changing colour from leaf-matching green to rosy red on one side, and these have grown quite large, like Bramleys.  A different variety but they are cookers and with any luck, plucked straight from the tree (using an apple picker), a good chance they will keep for several months.  The fallings, even those that fell on the soft grass beneath the tree, will be slightly bruised, these I'm having to cook/freeze before they rot. 

B had his favourite supper tonight, this being liver, bacon, potatoes, and cabbage.  Sounds boring but it is very tasty due to the bacon fat (the cabbage first shredded, steamed, then tossed in the bacon fat - small potatoes halved, cooked and then added to the pan at the side of the liver so these too get coated in pan juices. 

However much I would love to cook restaurant quality meals for B, he is happiest when eating what I call 'normal' foods, nothing fancy, just a good plateful (having a large appetite he has his meals served on a meat platter), so it is basically 'farmhouse fare' that is served up in the Goode kitchen at the moment.  As long as it smells good, looks good, and tastes good, then that's all that really matters.

Sometimes I think we get carried away by the many cookery progs to be seen on TV.  Everything looks wonderful, and perhaps makes our own efforts looks pitiful, but this could be the cause of over-spending when it comes to trying to follow what the chefs/cooks demonstrate.  Rarely do they use inexpensive ingredients.

Today I read a recipe to serve one person, said to be for the budget-conscious.  It was a type of casserole that used a 7oz (200g) piece of steak, this being twice as much meat (protein) as nutritionally we really need.  

Looking forward to tomorrow to watch Brian Turner and Janet Street-Porter in Warwickshire.  Am hoping Berkswell hasn't changed that much since we stayed there, but bet it has.  Just about everywhere has.   Move with the times people say, but I bet many readers wish things could have remained how they used to be when they were young.

A really busy week this week.  Am tempted to take a rest from blogging until Sunday. If I can find time to drop in for my daily chat tomorrow will do so,, but if I don't appear you will know why.  Friday also busy but hope to pop in later that evening (B then out at his social and not hogging the comp or TV in this room).  Up early Saturday for our flu jabs.

Next week must start potting up the daffodil bulbs and trimming the geraniums before bringing these into the conservatory to flower through the winter.  

We at now at the equinox, and officially the first day of Autumn, although this season seems to have already started.  Dawn and dusk are at the same time of day (or should be if we were in GMT - dusk is one hour later).  Clocks should go back soon.  Weather still warm, and getting slightly warmer at the weekend, but now quite cool at night, also autumn mists in some areas in the early morning. 

Nearly midnight, am nodding off as I write, next week hope to have got on top of things and then  able to write a more interesting blog.  Stick with me - I'll get there in the end.  ~TTFN~

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Quick Catch Up...

Just back from the church 'circle', only seven of us there.  We had half an hour of 'clairvoyance' and was very pleased that I had a 'voice' telling me 'ask Margaret about Terence'.  When I asked (in my mind) 'why?', the reply was, to find out if she is still thinking about me'.

When we were all asked if we had received any messages (or whatever) I said the above, and there was a Margaret in the group, and - believe it or not - her husband's name was Terence (I didn't know that), and he is still alive, currently on holiday in New Zealand, but probably asleep as the time the message came through.  Margaret was about to get in touch with him via Skype (or whatever that is), but hadn't recently.  So it did make sense.

The trip to the haunted Winter Gardens tomorrow has been postponed.  My neighbour couldn't come on that day anyway, so we planned it for the following week.  When I got to the meeting, the man who is a volunteer at the W.G's, and who was to give us a guided tour, said he wouldn't be there tomorrow anyway as the place was booked that week by an organization giving a video show or something about Morecambe.  So that all fitted in quite well.  Will leave me time to make more marmalade tomorrow morning.

As B is having cold meats and salad for his supper, and quite able to plate that up by himself (I suppose - well he knows where the meat is, and the salads, the rest is up to him), thought I'd grab the spare time to write my blog, then I can have an early night.

It rained today!!!!  B said did I need him to turn the car round so I could quickly reach the passenger seat without getting too wet, I said not to bother, and by the time I walked through the back door to the car the rain had stopped.
We drove into the street and the heavens opened and it poured down, but by the time we got to the church it had stopped (I knew it would, I asked it to), and when I left it was beginning to dry up, but still very cloudy, and as the gardens can do with more rain, am quite pleased.  Believe it will clear up again by the weekend and still remain fairly warm (late teens and into the 20'sC in the London area).
Next week it will be October.  Less than 100 days to Christmas I read somewhere.  Am in no hurry.

The recipe today is unusual in that having heard of curried fish but have never eaten any (just doesn't seem to go together), am pleased to find a recipe that serves fish with curried lentils.  So if we wish we could leave out the fish and serve ourselves a larger amount of lentils.  At least the fish is separate so the flavour doesn't get lost in the spices.

Fish with Curried Lentils: serves 4
1 lime, cut into quarters
3 tblsp sunflower oil
1 onion, chopped
1 tblsp curry powder (mild to medium)
1 tblsp tomato puree
7 fl.oz (200ml) water
1 x 400g can green or brown lentils, drained
2 tblsp mango chutney,
4 x 5oz (150g) white fish fillets
salt and pepper
naan bread or chapatis for serving
Finely chop one of the lime quarters, including the skin.  Heat 2 tblsp of the oil in a medium frying pan and fry the onion for about 5 mins or until softened.  Stir in the curry powder and fry for a further minute, then add the tomato puree and the water, then stir in the lentils, chutney and the chopped lime.  Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes until thickened.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in another frying pan. Season the fish with salt and pepper and then fry for 5 minutes, turning halfway, until golden and cooked through.
Add a squeeze of lime to the fish, also to the lentils, then serve together (lentils at the side of the fish) with naan bread or chapatis.

Thanks to buttercup and Les for their comments.  My diabetic nurse kept trying to persuade me to take statins (to reduce cholesterol) but I refused as I've heard conflicting reports and preferred not to.

Sorry you've had to keep returning to hospital Les, do hope you are improving.  Envy you your wet room, our shower is very tiny and I am large, only just fit in.  Wish I could use the bath, but it is huge and very deep, even B won't use it as once in very difficult to get out, even the strong man he is.  Me with my mobility problems, no chance.  I don't fancy a 'bath-lift'.
In the past I would lie in a really warm bath for a long, long time being very good at hooking the plug chain between toes on one foot, and turning on the hot tap with the other, so letting the colder water out and topping up with hot.  Could stay in there for hours only got very wrinkly if in too long.  Bubble baths are best for keeping in the heat, the bubbles insulating and preventing the hot water cooling down too quickly.  Me having a long bubbly soak, with a book and a glass of wine - those were the days! 

Probably be blogging again this time tomorrow, see no reason why not.  Hope you can join me then. TTFN.