Friday, September 19, 2014

Late Friday evening....

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

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

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

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

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Smell of Success...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Happy Days!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

\Keeping it Short amd Sweet

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

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

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

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

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


Monday, September 15, 2014

Finding Time...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Jack of All Trades....

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Just Popping In....

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Mix and Match?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





Tuesday, September 09, 2014

This could be Interesting. Or Not...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 08, 2014

Live and Let Live....

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sunday, September 07, 2014

Quick Sunday Chat

It's been another glorious day today,  B and I went out for a short drive this afternoon to Red Bank Farm (just past Hest Bank), and there were loads of people there waiting to see the two Lancaster aeroplanes fly past.  These are the last two remaining since World War II.  Once was British, the other came from Canada.
B saw them fly across at a distance from the Lake District, then we heard them coming closer, but then never reached where we were, just swung past as soon as they reached Morecambe and turned towards Blackpool.  Some people saw them behind where we parked the car, and B got out and did see them, but I didn't.  Not that it mattered, I was already feeling like weeping (nostalgia I suppose) and so didn't as it happened.

We stopped on the way back at the farm that sold the free range eggs (that I'd bought before), I mentioned to the lady that I was still hoping for darker yolk as none of them (free-range or otherwise) had them these days.   I mentioned to her that I'd been told by an egg-producer that a good way to get deeper yolks was to add orange zest to their feed.  She was thrilled to hear this and said she was going straight away to start doing this.   Let us hope it works.  If it does she may give me some free eggs if she is there next time we visit.

Can't believe how lovely the weather is.  Very noticeable along the country lanes where the foliage just about touches the cars as they drive past (single lane with passing places on each side).   Lots of berries that I think are not edible, could these be hawthorn?  And are they edible anyway?  Most of the wild herbage (that we call weeds) is now dying pack and covered with seed heads just waiting for the wind to blow and scatter the seeds.

Now, regarding a comment that came in from an Anonymous.  Thanks jane for fighting my corner, but have to admit that I probably don't know enough about how the EU works, and do appreciate that it probably has helped us to sell our goods within Europe.  The person who sent the comment I did not feel was rude in anyway, just telling me to check first before I had my say, and he/she is quite right and I do thank him/her for giving my hand a slap.  

No doubt the common euro currency is extremely useful when travelling (and how lucky we are that we haven't yet been forced to change our currency to the euro).  And it must now be easier to move from one European country to another. On the other hand the open borders (to me they seem like that) seem to make it much easier for migrants to travel across Europe and end up at Calais desperately trying to get into this country.  Can't say that has helped the UK because this bites into any savings or profits we make from the EU (so we make any?) as we have to proved a massive amount of money in benefits, as well as homes.

My beef is that the EU seem to have control over much of our lives as they keep issuing new rules and regulations that we seem forced to comply with, and so many small businesses that have been run by the same families for generations - and their produce sold locally with no intention ever to export - have had to close down because they couldn't afford to bring their property and machinery up to EU recommended standards.
Only the other day I was told about a friend who - to comply with EU regs - has had to remove all her wooden surfaces in her catering department and replace everything with stainless steel.  It cost her a great deal of money.  Recently there has been an about turn and it is now OK to use wooden surfaces and chopping boards (obviously properly cleaned). The lady in question wasn't able to claim back the money she paid to do the change over.  She is now stuck with the stainless steel although she much preferred the wood she had in the first place.

When it comes to the sale of goods, then a Common Market is very useful, but when it comes to a nations traditions, surely these should be left alone, or at least left to the nation to decide whether to change or not?

Thanks also to jane, Sandy, Ali and Shayna for their comments on the glucosine range and MSM. I checked the price again paid for the glucosamine, it was £4.89 for 90.  So far cheaper to buy in bulk.
Even if expensive, as long as there is relief from pain it is worth it.

Think the injection is beginning to work a bit.  No longer do I get the feeling of broken glass being crushed in my knee-cap bones every time I stand up, now it is more a dull (still painful) ache, and seems to feel quite stiff when I begin to walk.  Doubt I will ever walk freely without needing a stick, but at least some relief is better than none. It certainly is better than it was and with any luck may even get better.

Not done much today as been out enjoying the lovely weather.  An evening to TV calls, so thought I'd write now so I can sit down and relax and have an earlier night than ususal (when blogging).  Will be back tomorrow, not sure what time.  TTFN.


Friday, September 05, 2014

Check Before We Buy

After making a sarnie using Weight Watchers Danish Bread (50cals per slice), I decided to check the calories per slice on a small Warburtons 'Toastie' that B had brought (to save me baking earlier this week).  Over twice the calories per slice in that, but of course the bread was thicker and the slices slightly larger.

So I decided to check the calories per 100g and surprise, surprise, there were less calories (239) in the 'toastie', than in the Weight Watchers (243).  At first I was tempted to think we were being conned and there was little difference in all breads, but certainly the W.W's was very much lighter per slice, this had to be caused by each slice having less dense crumb than normal bread - this being replaced by air.   But I like the bread, it is light and helps me not to gain weight (I pile on the lbs when eating normal bread), but it made me think.

So often we pay a lot more for something that has had an extremely cheap (or free) ingredient added.   When the first low-calorie margarines came on the market, the first ingredient on the list (printed on the back of the pack) was water.   So I discovered by beating softened butter (or marg) and water together I could make the same thing, ending up with a third more weight. For free!
Even now we can pick up packs of 'low-cal' spreads and water is often first on the list (a reminder than ingredients listed on a pack are in order of amount used, the most listed first, and then down the list until the least ingredient shown last.

We know that water is often pumped into poultry to make it weigh more, and I believe this now has to be mentioned in the ingredient list.  It goes into other things too, so we end up paying for something we don't want, and don't need.

Air too (another 'freebie' for the manufacturers) can fool us into believing we are getting more for our money.  The above bread is an example, but sensible reasons for including air, so will let that one pass.
Buying a leafy vegetable sold as-is and not by weight (lettuce, head of celery, cauliflower, cabbage etc) is something we really need to be careful about when buying.  A huge iceberg lettuce can look a worthwhile buy, but very often the leaves are looser than in smaller ones, so give the lettuce a bit of a squeeze to find the firmest, and if possible weigh before you buy.  I've often found an iceberg lettuce will weigh more than one twice its size.

I once went into a supermarket in Leeds to buy a lettuce, and there was an elderly lady at the counter carefully choosing the heaviest lettuce.  I had to wait until she had finished weighing most of them.
She then turned to me (having recognised me probably from TV) and said "that was a very good idea of yours to check the weights before buying" (I'd written this in an article published by the Yorkshire Evening Post).  Do you know, I was quite miffed - the little lady had walked off with the heaviest lettuce before I had a chance to buy it myself.  That'll teach me to share my tips" I told myself between gritted teeth.

So far very little noticeable difference with the pain in my knee - at least when I first rise after sitting or sleeping for any length of time.  Early days yet.  However, I do seem to be able to move around far more easily when I walk, and - quite amusingly - I've discovered my right knee is also a bit arthritic but never noticed it before as the pain in the left knee was so much worse I couldn't feel anything else.

Today bought some glucosamine tablets, and hoping these will help keep the arthritis in check.  A bit annoyed at the price, well over £4 for 90 tablets, and they say 'from one to three tablets a day', so if I take three they will last me only 10 days - that's at least £12 a month!!  Still - if they work, and if they do I could perhaps cut down to two a day or even one.

Thanks to Sandy for telling us about the glucosamine plus tablets.  As these are a mixture of three anti-arthritis chemicals no doubt they will cost even more.  But worth it if they work, and it will give me a good reason to go back to cost-cutting so that I can save the money to pay for them.

That is if I get the chance.  B chose to have Fish Risotto for his supper this evening.  I'd thawed out the fish, and I'd popped the diced shallot in the pan with butter to gently fry, and then added the rice.  Went to the cupboard to draw off a glass of white wine from the box of white (and also red) wine I keep for cooking, and found there was no white box.  B had been helping himself to it (again!!), and not replaced it when empty (he still expects me to pay for it).

So instead of the wine I added a slosh of Ouzo as I'd read that fish and aniseedy (things) go well together.  Fennel tastes of aniseed (and so does Ouzo).  B didn't seem to miss the wine although he said 'it didn't taste quite as good as normal', so I made him realise that it was his fault this time (is it ever my fault when it comes to cooking? Perhaps sometimes but I always know and warn him).

Thanks CTMOM for explaining about the CSA.  Even if the crops have to be allocated according to the amount there is, they allowance seems very generous, more than enough per week (going by the organic veggie box schemes).

Am relieved the mileage v kms mistake was due to your car being French Sairy.  So now I'm wondering if it was bought in France and made so the driver sits on the left-hand side (is that near or off-side?). Or was it produced especially for the UK?  I've always thought it must be very difficult to drive in another country where they drive on the other side of the road as you can't see if anything is coming towards you when you want to overtake?

For that matter, why is it we in the UK and the Republic of Ireland - and many Commonwealth Countries, even India, drive on the left of the road, and everyone else drives on the right? It would make it much easier (and safer) if we all did the same (as long as we were the ones not to change).
Am sure it won't be long before the EU decide we should conform to driving on the left as they do on the continent.

What a lot of nonsense about not allowing us to sell vacuum cleaners that are high powered.  That has led to most of those already on sale being sold at low price (that's good news anyway) before the ban started this week.
If a vacuum cleaner has a high powered motor it cleans up much faster than a slower one, so it could take twice or even three times as long to hoover up using a lower powered one, so wouldn't that be using more electricity overall? 

Perhaps we ought to start banning things on the continent like not allowing foie gras to be made any more (cruelty to animals), or eating snails or frogs legs (ditto) and not allowing live rabbits and chickens to be sold at markets to be bought to slaughter at home to cook for supper.  Horse meat should be probibited for sale on the continent (there are special butchers in France that sell this for human consumption), and bread should not be baked and bought fresh twice a day (as the French do) as it uses too much power.  Bake once a day.
Even if we managed to get a ban on the above, the French would take no notice, so why do we take notice of what they tell us to do?  We have always made our own decisions as to what is right and what is wrong, so let it stay that way.  Why we ever got involved with the Common Market and the EU I don't know, we pay in far more money to them than we ever get back.

It's been a gorgeous day today (again). and my neighbour and I sat and drank our coffee outdoors this morning sitting on the garden bench.  We do this every Friday and there have only been a very few days this summer when we have had to stay indoors due to rain or a cold wind. 
Apparently the good weather is supposed to stay with us until late November, I find this hard to believe but in the past once we have a settle summer, it does tend to continue right through autumn. 

Although I had thought we had some rain once or twice, obviously not a lot as every pot on the patio had dried out, so I spent quite some time watering them all.  Managing to do this quite easily, stick in one hand, heavy bucket of water in another, so my knee must be starting to improve.

Hoping to go out on Norris tomorrow, and maybe even scoot along the prom (first time this year), as although I do love summer, the warm gentle autumn sunshine has a magic of its own and I love to be in it.  The views across the Bay look even lovelier when the sunlight falls at a lower angle on the Lakeland hills.  Must take a photo and hopefully put it onto my blog when I can work out how to do it.  I've got the camera working, and have managed (in draft only) to reproduce one of the old foodie photos onto my blog, so hope to do it properly very soon.

That's is for today.  Seem to have got over my withdrawal symptoms and my mind is now working more clearly.  Common sense tells me to have an early night (it is just after 11.00pm anyway), so as B is still out at his sailing social night, hope to be asleep before he comes in or he will keep me awake with all his noisy coughing, blowing, singing and talking that he always does in his sleep after a Friday night out.

As is now usual I won't be blogging tomorrow (Saturday), probably back again Sunday but certainly on Monday.  Hope you all have a lovely weekend.  TTFN.




Thursday, September 04, 2014

The Simple Life....

Had the knee injection this morning, not nearly as painful as I thought it would be, only slight discomfort.  Doctor said it would take about two days to two weeks before it worked, so the pain is still with me, but it does seem not to hurt quite as much now when I stand up. 
Unfortunately late this afternoon and all evening I didn't feel at all well, possibly due more to withdrawal symptoms from the pills than the injection.  Couldn't keep awake and had the most horrendous nightmares.   Perhaps I am just needing to catch up on the sleep I have lost over the last two nights.

Have begun reading a book that B brought me from the library - "A History of English Food' by Clarissa Dickson Wright.  It's one of those books that needs close reading to learn things, so am still only on chapter 2 (it's quite a thick book). but for me - a lover of what I call 'domestic history' - it is making me very aware of how some things have changed and some have not.

Still reading about medieval times, it did seem that in those days there was no unemployment, just levels of class.  Apart from the high-born, everyone worked for someone, even if not paid much.  The only homeless were by choice - usually 'outlaws' (those who had broken the law and run away, and these usually banded together like Robin Hood and his Outlaws).

Here is a paragraph from the book that shows how lives were in rural areas, and to me that doesn't seem a lot different to what we read about happening in World War II (other than the size of housing)...
"Vast majority of English people were poor agricultural workers, living in small one- and two-roomed cottages.
They had allotments for their vegetables, their own field strips for crops, perhaps a pig or two to provide bacon, ham and lard, some chickens for eggs, and a cow or goat for milk and cheese.  In good times their diet was sufficient, in bad times life could be grim."

Quite a lot of food could be found for free, rabbits and many birds, fish in streams and in the sea, plus hedgerow fruits and nuts, mushrooms and wild herbs, and no doubt there was quite a lot of bartering going on as well as raising a few pennies selling surplus at local markets. 
As most folk could neither read nor write, and of course had no TV radio or anything else to detract them, spare time was taken up with hard work in the fields for their feudal lord, while the womenfolk preserved foods for the winter months.

Weather then was as varied as it is now, possibly worse in many years and when crops were ruined due to adverse weather, there were no imports as today to keep everyone well fed.  Today sat in the living room sun shining in (it's been a glorious day today) and thought how lucky we all are.  Probably living a better life than even the kings of centuries ago.  We just don't have the servants - by 'we' I mean us middle and working classes - yet I suppose even that class system has now gone as many working class folk now earn millions (such as those in the entertainment and sport industries).

Yet, however bleak the above life can seem to be, I still hanker after living a life like that.  Probably why I now regularly watch 'Little House on the Prairie' as for one hour in the day I can lose myself and believe I'm part of that family and enjoy or endure whatever befalls them.   A hard life can make many people strong, not just in muscle but in faith and personality.   Incidentally, the extract above from C.D.W's book followed by saying that the simple diet did not mean people were weakened, for in times of war most of the menfolk had to go off to fight and it took very strong arms to pull the bowstrings of the long-bows used in those times.

The average age of people living in the medieval period was 30 years, but - being an average - this took into account the ages of children who died in infancy, and there were many of these. So possibly many rural people (who would be eating the freshest and organic produce anyway), would live into their fifties.

This reminds me.  After asking the doctor if there were any foods I should avoid eating, or any supplements (glucosamine etc) I should take, he seemed to think there was little chance of helping the arthritis now it has once established itself.  No cure has yet been found, it is just due to old age.  He said mine - in the knee - was very severe, and it seems arthritis is increasing quite rapidly as almost every week another joint/knuckle me starts to hurt, but not enough to bother me YET.  It was only the left knee that has caused me extreme pain. The little finger (mentioned yesterday) definitely is now arthritic (doc says so), and as I write the base of my left thumb also feels as though it has the start as it twinges as I type. 
I'm going to get some glucosamine as although I won't cure the arthritis this may help to slow it down. 

That Community Supported Agricultural scheme sounds good CTMOM.  Are you limited to the amount of produce you can take at any one time?  And can you visit the farm/s (is it just one place or several you can go to?) as many times as you like?
The only comparison I can make over here is the organic vegetable box scheme, or the 'pick your own' farms, but neither are cheap (produce often more expensive than supermarkets but of course fresher).  We also have farmers' markets where fresh produce from the locality is sold, again not cheap. 

Can't remember the month that decimalisation started Mandy, it could have been in the Feb. of 1971.  Like Alison who remember using the old currency, we often convert the prices today back to what they would have been.   The problem with decimalisation is that one 'new p', equals two and a half old pence (tuppence ha'penny), so it can seem that some foods that appear cheap now really are not.   When ordering from Tesco I saw a jar of sweet and sour sauce was only 25p!!  That to me is cheap.  B could get three stir-fries out of that.  One branded but small sachet of sweet and sour sauce could be as much as 75p and only enough for 1 serving.

Yet 25p (five shillings in old money) is not THAT cheap.  Even worse, 75p when converted back comes to 15 shillings, and when you think of it in those terms, that's an awful lot of money for something we just pour over a serving as a sauce.  Far cheaper to make our own.

The price we pay for anything is relative to the amount of money that is earned, so the higher the wage the more money we are prepared to part with.  Well, it used to be like that, but now the utility bills have increased so much that we rarely have any pennies left over as 'disposable income'.  Myself have noticed that when once - having a months supply of food delivered by Tesco - the carrier bags used to be packed in several large green baskets (wheeled down the drive on a trolley, the driver going back to fetch another load).  Now - although I still keep my budget to the same - it is noticeable that the number of green baskets is far less.  Perhaps this is why my larder has more open spaces on the larder shelves than ever before.  Even so, still enough in store to keep us going for several months if needs be. 

There was a time when my Beloved asked why I kept ordering such a lot of food each month - because he could see I still had food on the shelves and in the fridge/freezer.  What he said made sense.  On the other hand I was replacing all the 'fresh' foods (milk, eggs....) and all the foods he eats regularly (butter, bacon, cream, fish, chicken, cheese.....) the rest was to keep in store because it had become a habit.  Now we are living on a state pension there is no need to be concerned about whether B is earning money or not (he was often out of work), and so stocking up is not now as necessary as it was.  Maybe I need the security a store-cupboard gives me, also feel that we never know when the next disaster will happen (or transport strikes), and we all have to fend for ourselves for a few days (or weeks, or months).  I still remember the last war, and I like to cover all contingencies. 

The mention of transport has reminded me to reply to Sairy (so am editing this bit in as I forgot), if her garage set her car mileage in metric (not miles) does that mean there soon will be a change and we all have to change?  No more miles, only kilometres?  Hope we won't then have to drive on the right as do most countries.

Never have heard about a Yumpling Jane, not sure whether it sounds appetising or not, perhaps I should try making it.

Poor B is in a very bad mood these days, and can't blame him.  You may remember, some many weeks ago when our sewers were blocked and we had to call out United Utilities.  Being it was Friday late afternoon they said they couldn't come out until Monday.  As we couldn't use the loo or run any water taps due to blockage, we insisted and after several phone calls eventually they sent out another company who cleared the sewer late that evening.  A camera was threaded down the sewer right past our property, into the street where it could be seen there was a blockage where our sewer joined the main one that was under the middle of the road, caused by roots from the roadside trees that had worked their way into the pipes.
The man who cleared the pipes gave B a paper with the details and told him to make a claim to have the call-out money repaid to us by the council.  And then the fun started.  We have been asked to provide details of who cleared the sewer (they apparently have 'lost' the form we sent), plus various road plans showing the siting of our sewer and the main sewer, where the trees are, and also asked us to arrange an arboriculturist to check whether it is the council trees or our trees (we don't have any) causing the root problem.  We have to pay for any council plans and also anyone to come and check the pipes, and as it has been proved (by the camera) that the problem is outside our boundary, so the council problem, they won't do anything unless we provide all the info they want.  If we do this we will have to pay out even more money, although I suppose we can also claim this back.

What I can't work out is that if we have to get the council to provide the necessary plans (at our expense), why can't the (council) person who is dealing with this problem just go and get the details themselves?  Several other houses in our road have their sewers regularly blocked (this is the third time our has had to be cleared since we moved in 5 years ago) and the house opposite to us had to call out Dyno Rod the following day to have her sewers cleared also - blockage caused by roots from the trees in the road.  She will also be making a claim.

The council know the trees in our road are causing damage and have already begun to remove some, and we have been told they say all will be removed within the next two years.  You would suppose with the continual problem with the sewers they would have arranged a regular check and clearance of any roots.  But no - they expect us to provide all the proof while sit on their backsides. hoping that if they carry on asking us to provide this and that (and have to keep paying for it) we will eventually give up the claim.
It does seem that while the council is responsible for the trees and the maintenance of our road, the 'waterworks' system (sewage and fresh water) are controlled by United Utilities, so it could be that the council are putting the blame on the U.U.  But we still have to deal with the problem through the council. 
Beloved is getting very stressed re all this, so hope something can be settled soon.

It's just about midnight, so think - due to me still feeling not quite with it - that I'll finish now and see what tomorrow brings. It could be my knee will be slightly less painful, or maybe will have to wait a bit longer.  But the worst should soon be over.

After the visit to the surgery we went to the Half Moon Bay café and had a bacon butty, eating it while we sat in the car and looked at the view.  The tide was out, and although a bit hazy over towards the Lake District the sun has been shining all day. Very definitely the leaves are now changing colour and although very warm it definitely felt like autumn.   Everything that grows, and all creatures seem to know what time of year it is and am sure we instinctively 'feel' it too.  I can sense autumn in the air in the same way as I can sense spring, not even gradually, it just happens on once special day.  These two seasons seem to be more important than sensing winter and summer, and in a way they are. Rebirth, regrow in spring, and then preparing to shut down for the winter (or stock up the larder in my case).   
If we took more notice of nature and what happens during the year we might find life can become less complicated.  We would be aware of what is needed and when, and provide for it in advance.  The simple life you could say.   It used to be like that centuries ago and I'm not sure that technology has done anything for us other than make life easier, and that is perhaps not always a good thing as when we have spare time the devil has work for idle hands and with the 'social network' it is now all too easy to inspire good people to do bad things.   Reminds me of that old game 'follow my leader', a clever person can just about talk anyone into doing anything.

But I'm SO pleased someone invented the washing machine.  That does save time and I can watch TV while it is washing/spinning the laundry.  I don't log on to any of the social networks sites so am not likely to get led astray.  Or maybe I have been already.  Perhaps I spend too much time concentrating on cost-cutting and maybe should go back to cooking simple fare like mum used to make.

Back again tomorrow, then taking Saturday off so that I can catch up on all the culinary chores that are still waiting to be done.  Hope the good weather stays with us so you can all have a lovely weekend.  TTFN.