Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Going to Plan

My 'things to do' list made yesterday very nearly didn't even get started as B dashed in here just as I'd finished publishing this blog, telling me the baby seagull - that has been living rather precariously on the roof tiles of the house at the back - was now on our lawn.

The fledgling ('our baby' we call it) was larger than I expected, but seemed unable to fly, or just didn't want to. There was a cat hovering around and B and I were afraid it was after the gull, but as this was a good size, perhaps decided not to bother. Anyway we decided to 'baby-sit' the gull in turns for a few hours, watching it through the conservatory window, and it seemed to settle quite happily, managing to find something to eat from the low lying plants (insects perhaps) and later I saw tugging out a worm or two from the grass verge by the gravel. The wet weather seems to bring worms to the surface.

Later it scratched itself a hollow in the gravel to make its own 'nest' and had a long nap. By then the mother bird had given up flying around and settled up on top of the chimney pot to do watching from a distance. Certainly she was very conscious of danger as when the 'baby' decided to have a toddle out of the garden, past the garage doors, B's car and then possibly down the drive, it was then I decided to go out of the kitchen door and shoo it back to safety, and it was then the mother bird decided to attack and dive-bombed me, so I quickly ran back into the house.

This morning there is no sign of 'our baby', but it could be somewhere hidden amongst the many low lying shrubs around the gravel. Think it has an instinctive 'feel' for these small stones as they must feel must like gravel on a beach, so will possibly stay there until it can fly. Maybe it has already flown. B is still in bed, and as it is still raining (yes RAINING! the rest of the country has a heatwave, but not us), will wait for him to go and see if he can find it.

Incidentally, the 'babies' sibling also seems to have tried a short flight yesterday as it was seen on the flat extension of the roof of the house next door to it where it also seemed reluctant to depart. This too is not visible this morning, so maybe both have flown off somewhere else. All I hope is that they have managed to avoid predators and remain safe.

Although it was nearly 1.00pm before my 'baby-sitting' shift was over and B took my place, I did manage to do everything on my list. So was proud of myself for that. The only thing worth photographing was the mini-pork pies I made, so here they are, together with the cheese quiche I also made. Sorry they all look a bit 'orange', couldn't seem to get them to look the right colour, think this was caused by the flash (kitchen being too dark to photo by normal daylight).
My intention was to make one big pork pie, but for some reason decided to make individual ones, lining 8 muffin tins with pastry then packing them with filling before fitting on the pastry lid. Yes, there are only 7 pies in the photo, that's because I ate one to see what it was like.

My intention was to use a small lump of previously made 'pork pie filling' that I had left-over and frozen, but after thawing discovered it was small scraps of chicken meat taken from the carcase after making stock. So made a bit of a mixture, putting some bacon scraps (also left-over) in the food processor with two skinned raw sausages and the cooked chicken. Blitzed them together then filled the pastry cases with this, pressing it firmly down. When cooked, poured some re-boiled concentrated chicken stock through the holes in the top.
Have to say when cut they looked very good. Think they needed a bit more flavouring (dash of W. sauce perhaps?) but otherwise ate very well and will make these small pies again.

As there was the pie, quiche, sausages and home-cooked ham to eat (with salad), B decided he didn't want corned beef as well, so that tin remains on the shelf to be eaten later. Lots of quiche and mini-pies, ham etc left, so that should keep B in snacks for a day or two (and some I'll have myself for supper).

Have already made a list of things to do today, and as I've got up early - due to it being so humid last night it made sleeping difficult - want to make a start a.s.a.p. Today is Norma the Hair day, but she is coming mid-morning as a later client is ill so I've been asked to take her 'slot' so Norma gets the chance of a lie-in.

Took a photo of the young gull yesterday, you can see this below, standing on our lawn close to the gravel. The big leaves on the right are rhubarb, unfortunately this variety has thin stems, unlike the one we had in our Yorkshire garden - this had big thick ones.

As you can see from the photo, the rain we have been having (and still having) has kept the lawn looking very lush and green, too wet to mow at the moment, but at least plenty of worms and slugs for the larger birds that keep coming to our garden (magpies, blackbirds, pigeons, doves etc - not forgetting baby gulls!).

We have been very fortunate in being able to see a baby gull grow daily from a ball of fluff to the 'teenager' seen above. All it needs is a few more tail feathers and it will then be fully fledged, and in twelve months change to its adult white plumage with dark 'trim'. The darker plumage it has at the moment must be for camouflage as noticed when the bird squatted down by some larger stones at the edge of the gravel even we found it hard to see where it was.

Envy you Alison having some really hot weather. Am hoping we eventually get some. Although the band of rain really is very narrow, it is slap bang over Morecambe and our temperature is 10C lower than that about 50 miles further south. We expect more rain today (already having it), but hopefully this will move away. We then are forecast cloud (while the rest of the country get the sun), and maybe, just MAYBE, the sun will arrive here later this week, but for how long. They expect rain for the Olympic opening ceremony, but that will be down south, and so hopefully not here as well.

Thanks to Lisa and Margie for their comments, however much I moan about our weather here in Morecambe, don't think we could cope with temperatures as high as in parts of the US and Canada at the moment. So perhaps I should be more grateful for having cooler weather.

We don't have a programme on Diners and things as mentioned in the comment, but perhaps you meant Man v Food where the presenter goes to all these places and we see the large platefuls that customers are normally served (the presenter manfully trying to work his way through a quadruple - often much larger - portion, aiming to finish within a time limit).

Also thanks to Catriona for her comment, and to Oliver who has reminded me of a Freeview channel re food.
A 'box' came up over a TV programme yesterday about retuning the Freeview digital box so that we can watch different Olympic games by 'pressing the red button'. Not that that would work for us as the only red button on the remote is the one that switched the digital box off.
But it did say how to re tune, so as there are a couple of new Freeview channels (including the 'food' one) that we still can't receive, obviously it would be sensible to re-tune. So will perhaps add that to my 'today's list'.

It is when the weather is really hot that we lose our appetite. All we want is lots to drink, and this preferably chilled. Have not yet experimented in making frozen savoury lollies (made from tomato juice, or cream soups....) but see no reason why they shouldn't make good eating on a scorcher of a day. Frozen fruit-flavoured yogurt is another worthwhile 'lolly-make'. All far more nourishing that bought 'water-ices'.
One thing I have tried is eating frozen grapes, and also slices of frozen banana and these really are refreshing, and also have a certain nourishment.

Maybe we get too concerned about always having enough to eat whatever the weather. If people in the Third World can survive on a handful of rice each day (for months), then we should not be concerned about missing a meal or three on the very few hot days that we have in the UK. Most of us eat by habit, never waiting for hunger pangs to tell us we need food, so consequently our bodies have their own 'store' of nourishment waiting to be used up (but hardly ever given the chance), in much the same way as we build up our larders then never wait for it to be used up before we re-stock. Our shelves groan with the weight, and our bodies groan with the excess lbs we've piled on due to our 'habitual eating'. I know because it is a case of 'been there, done that'.

Even though here in Morecambe it is really cool for the time of year, still prefer to serve 'light' and often cold meals. Mainly salads with possibly some freshly cooked warm new potatoes and maybe a steak or fish for B. I can eat cold anytime between April and October, although perhaps it is more the speed of preparation that I find more appealing. When cold a hot drink usually warms me up. Of course do eat hot meals from time to time, but generally prefer the easier option where I am concerned. B prefers more hot meals to cold, but he is happy with a Cold Meat Platter (and salad) now and again. He also like Prawn Cocktail (another cold dish).

Anyway, today really have to have an early start as I am intending to make another batch of mixed fruit jam before Norma arrives. So now off to the kitchen to do just this. Hope to meet up with you all again tomorrow. See you then.