Monday, May 28, 2012

Pressure is Building Up!

Yesterday didn't end too well. I asked B if I could have a bit of his lemonade (so I could take one of my pills) and whilst lifting it off the floor at the side of his chair he accidentally knocked over a half-pint glass of red wine also on the floor. As we have a pale cream carpet, this was not good.
Of course it was my fault (if I hadn't asked for the lemonade etc. etc.). B put some newspaper over the spilt wine to soak it up.
Luckily I did have a 'red-wine remover' bought many months ago 'just in case', so B then sprayed the stain with that, but - silly boy - instead of following instructions on the can (wipe off the foam with a white cloth...) he then scrubbed the stain with newspaper, ending up with printer's ink on top of the mark left by the wine (and a big mark it was too as there was a lot of wine in the glass).

Off stomped B a very cross mood, he said he was going to bed (and it was only 8.30pm), so I then stood over the mark and wondered if there was anything else I could do. Decided to go into the kitchen to see if I had any other stain removers and discovered one I got from Lakeland 'Oxygen' I think it is called (removing wine not mentioned, but worth a try). So sprayed this on, and it was magic. After the five minutes, then a wipe with a cloth, all the stains had disappeared.

By that time I was wide awake and not in the mood to even think about going to bed, so did a bit of tidying up of the living room, putting all B's papers (that he leaves at both sides of his chair and also at one end of another couch) together in one huge carrier bag that he had thrown in a corner (B is far happier when the house is in a mess he thinks this is 'homely'. He doesn't do 'tidy'). Not that I mind, it saves me continually having to clear up, and on the rare occasions when I do, within a very few seconds things have been chucked around to make it more 'homely' again. Then watched a late-night film. Ended up quite a happy bunny.

Anyway, the spilt wine served its purpose for that's now one room sorted. Have to do a couple more and the place will almost be fit for visitors. But today is going to be mainly sorting the kitchen for I HAVE to get started on the coming Jubilee festivities. Having been asked to make and bake for two parties (one on Sat, the other on Sunday), still don't know exactly what is wanted or the amounts. At least today can make the marmalade (and have already weighed out the sugar ready to start the moment I leave this comp.).

The 'tidy-up' yesterday unearthed two packs of seeds that I didn't know we had. Don't know why these were buried in B's papers, maybe he bought them (if you remember he was told by someone that we could grow beans up one of our fences, so he then wanted to even though he doesn't like beans). One packet was runner beans, the other being French beans (these I call 'string' beans). These can be sown outside now, so am hoping to find time this week to do so (even though they probably won't get eaten by B), and also plant my tomato plants outside.

Also discovered an old 'organic (veg) mag', and flicking through before it ended up in the waste-paper basket (this being a huge log basket to hold the various newspapers and junk mail that comes through our door), saw a mention of growing our own chick peas. Most readers are already aware that we can grow a lot of things from bought (supermarket) foods, and myself have already had a go at growing the seeds taken from bought bell peppers and butternut squash, the pips and stones from citrus fruits and avocados, the dried peas and various dried beans, dried whole coriander spice (these will grow into fresh green coriander leaves - and perhaps fennel seeds also grow), so am now having a think about chick peas... If you are interested in doing the same, then read this extract from the mag:

"Chickpeas: You may be surprised that chickpeas grow in the Midlands, and have been cultivated on the region's allotments for years. An easy crop to please - drought tolerant, pest-free and doing best on poor, relatively roughly cultivated soil. Although they benefit from a warm soil and sunshine, they are originally a Middle Eastern crop, where temperatures can fall below zero at night, so the plants can tolerate a little frost.
For seeds, just buy dried chickpeas from the grocers, So directly outside from April till June. Space plants 15cm each way on beds or 10cm x 20cm in rows. The plants look like a vetch, sprawling along the ground. White or purple flowers develop into small pods, which contain one or three beans.
But what's the point in growing chickpeas when a pillowcase sized bag of dried ones costs next to nothing (where does the writer manage to buy his so cheaply?)? Fresh, green chickpeas, with their distinct, sweet but mild nutty flavour, are a delicacy. If you wait until the pods have turned slightly yellow, they can be roasted; the 'peas' inside make a popular snack."

Looks like this week is going to be 'all go'. Depending upon how I get on, I may need to take Fri, Sat, Sun off, as some of the cooking may have to be 'fresh', and last minute. Certainly the cake decorating will have to be done as near as possible to the 'party time'.
Am also hoping to grab an hour to get into the garden this week to both do some planting and also have a 'sit' so am sure you will allow me a day or two off from writing my blog. It all depends on what time I get up in the morning (this usually depends on what time I go to bed, and this can be later than it should be as there are often things I wish to see on late-night TV).

Why should I feel the need to explain the reasoning behind my every move? All that really needs to be said is that I might not be writing my blog over this coming Bank Holiday. But then that would be abrupt and that is one thing I'm not. Sorry for those who wish I were. Treat me like Marmite, you can then either love me or hate me.

Did manage to grab an hour (possibly longer) sitting outside in the sun yesterday, and it really was hot. Even in that short time I managed to acquire stripes of tan at the top of my arms, deep brown up to my elbows, then slightly lighter when I then folded up my short sleeves, then lighter still when I rolled up close to the shoulder, and lightest of all at the top when I pulled the sleeves back almost to my neck.

Thanks for that timely warning about air fresheners Sarina, also confirmed by Eileen. When much younger I used to enjoy the fragrance given off by 'joss sticks' - these being what are probably called incense sticks as mentioned by Campfire. Lovely 'home-made' incense sticks can be made using dried lavender stalks (flowers and leaves removed). Just put several in a jar and touch the tips with a lighted match and they should then smoulder away leaving the room smelling delightfully of lavender. Have to give a warning though as we need to be careful when lighting things. Think readers have enough common sense to make sure they have a glass of water close by just in case.
For several years now like to add 'fragrance' to a room by dotting around bowls of home-made pot-pourri. At least used to when we grew a lot of scented roses in our Leeds garden. We have no roses here. But do have lavender, so must bring the above 'joss stick' idea back into our home again.

Have never heard of 'the Childe of Hale' Campfire, expect there is something on the Internet about he/she. It would be lovely to have done something that people would remember us by centuries later.
The 'recipe blog' you mentioned is probably the new site of mine that is not quite ready to view. Once up and running the recipes will always be there to refer to, but my hope is that most can be remembered with just a few words jotted down as a reminder in a personal 'recipe' notebook such as:
'Yorkshire Pudding: same measure each of egg, milk and plain flour (one egg etc will make four individual yorkies). Whisk until smooth, pour into a tray containing a little hot fat. Bake at 200C for 25 minutes)".
Although all the recipes will be given in full, once made all we need is a quick reminder (without continually having to refer to the screen - or a recipe book). Much the same way that our (or at least my) grandparents used to cook. By memory.

A welcome to Andrea (McCulloch), who mentions Nella Last's books. I have all three, and just love the way she writes (although find her first book the easiest one to read - she rambles on a bit too much in the others. Who am I to talk!!!). Nella L. reminds me so very much of me, we seem to have the same 'mind-set'. As we both were alive during the war years I am not Nella's 'reincarnation', but when reading her books I feel as though I am.

Sorry to hear about your hip pain Andrea, and - as so often happens - sitting up instead of going to bed at night can cause swollen ankles, even when the feet are propped up on a stool. Mine are not too bad as I wear support stockings (and wish I could leave them off during day this hot weather), and not sure why but my feet (and maybe everyone's) swell up quite a lot more when the weather is really warm. Have to wear a larger size of shoe when this happens, yet in icy cold weather then my feet have shrunk so much my (smaller size) shoes fall off when I walk. Wonder if it only feet that changes in size or do I swell (or shrink) all over?

A thanks also to T.Mills for her comment. It is good to know I can keep 'rambling on', and as I am now 'set in my ways', it would not be easy for me to change them.

One recipe today that could suit everyone. Polenta (cornmeal) I believe is gluten-free, but semolina (which is not) could be used instead. To prevent the loaf tasting a bit 'gritty', then blitz a coarse grain down in a liquidiser/blender to make a finer flour.
The rum is optional (but worth it), orange or other fruit juice could be used instead.
Banana, Date and Rum Loaf: cuts into 10 slices
9 oz (250g) stoned, ready to eat dates
7 fl oz (200ml) boiling water
approx 5 oz (150g) banana (1 large or 2 small)
3 oz (75g) pecans or walnuts, roughly chopped
7 oz (200g) raisins
7 oz (200g) sultanas
4 oz (100g) fine polenta (see above)
2 tsp mixed spice
2 tsp baking powder
3 tblsp rum
2 egg whites
Put the dates in a small pan with the water and simmer for 5 minutes, then drain - reserving the liquid - and put the dates in a food processor with the bananas and 4 fl oz (100m) of the reserved liquid, then blitz until smooth.
Put the nuts, dried fruits, polenta, spice and baking powder into a bowl, then add the date puree and rum. Stir well to combine.
Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks and then carefully fold them into the cake mixture. Tip into a 2lb loaf tin lined with baking parchment (its OK if it just about fills the tin). Bake for 1 hour at 180C, 350F, gas 4 until golden and a skewer stuck in the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin, and don't slice until completely cold.

No more time to spare, so off now to the kitchen to make the first batch of marmalade. Hope you all have a good day and can grab some time to relax in the sunshine. Please join me tomorrow so we can have another good 'natter'. Well me doing the nattering, you resigned to having to put up with it. TTFN.