Saturday, November 17, 2012

Early Birds...

Thankfully, after a day's rest yesterday, now feel almost back to normal.  Well enough to get up early (6.00am-ish) and make a large gingerbread tray-bake, before I sat down to write my blog today.
Lovely smell of baking coming from the kitchen.  Unfortunately it is for the 'social' tomorrow, so no chance of sampling it (should have baked it yesterday as it improves on keeping, but didn't feel up to it).

While the cake was baking (took 45 minutes) then had a couple of slices of toast and Marmite for my breakfast with a mug of coffee, then set about doing all the washing up that hadn't been done since Thursday!!  B usually does do the washing up, but yesterday he sat in the living room engrossed in reading a book (that he got from the library - and I have to say I too find reading a book much more interesting than doing anything else), and then shortly after went to the gym and didn't return until supper time (he got his own supper - a cuppa soup, and a can of soup with cream (very hard work!!!), and then went off early to the sailing club 'social' as he said they were having a meeting.

At least all the washing up has now been done, and B will probably help by moving everything from the draining tray to the kitchen table or onto the top of the units  (I prefer to let everything drain dry after being washed in very hot water as this is more hygienic than drying with a tea towel).  But rarely does B put things away in drawers or cupboards.  He just moves them from the tray and then leaves me to put things where they should go, which - after all - IS the best way for then they are put back in the proper place so when I need to use them again they are instantly found.  Like always!   Although B is able to find all the pans and utensils when he cooks his own supper, he doesn't seem to remember the other way round, and they can end up goodness knows where.
Or is it me that is a control freak when it comes to my kitchen utensils, appliances, and ingredients?

At least sitting in the living room most of yesterday was able to watch even more TV.  Much of it being The Food Network.  Around noon there was AWT again with Oz Clark and Linda Barker (plus another cook) showing festive fare and decorations for New Year's Eve.  Again a great deal of money (by my standards) spent on the table decor and trimmings. 
Loved the idea of everyone wearing masks, might suggest that to the social club for one of their 'special evenings'.  Everyone given a mask at the door when they arrive, so when they enter the main hall they are (hopefully) unrecognisable.  Even if the masks are a bit expensive, they can be used for many times over the following years.

As ever, one thought then spawns another, and I'm now thinking it should be quite easy to make masks by covering half an inflated balloon with papier mache (made from newspaper) to make a full face mask, then painting it and adding glitter, etc, even a sort of headdress on top, or just the normal 'over the eye' mask from strong paper/card, again painting.  Elastic or ribbons to hold the mask on the face when worn.
Myself have made piggy banks using an inflated balloon covered with papier mache (just burst the balloon to remove it when the paper has dried.  But so far haven't yet tried making a mask (am sure it would be very easy). Children might like to have a go at making masks for themselves. 

This morning am planning to make butterscotch popcorn to sell along with the preserves tomorrow (I won't be there but B and daughter will be), also have to make 2 dozen fruit scones early tomorrow morning for B to take with the gingerbread to be served with the mince pies (provided by others) along with cups of tea/coffee.
The popcorn is very easy to make - here is the recipe?
Butterscotch Popcorn:
1 tblsp sunflower oil
2 oz (50g) popping corn
2 oz (50g) butter
2 oz (50g) caster sugar
1 rounded tblsp golden syrup
Put the oil in a large deep saucepan, add the popping corn and swirl around.  Place over medium heat making sure the pan is covered with a lid, then wait for the corn to 'pop'.  When the popping stops remove from heat, and tip the corn into a bowl, making sure any unpopped kernels are removed (they are extremely hard)..
Meanwhile, melt the butter, sugar and syrup together in a small pan, then pour this over the still warm popped corn, tossing it together so the corn kernels are coated, then spread this in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet (you may need two sheets), and bake for 10 minutes at 150C, 300F, gas 2,  turning the corn halfway through.   Leave to get cold in the tin and then break up into small clusters (or individual kernels) and bag up or keep in an airtight tin.

The other day Nigella was making a spicy popcorn, much the same way as above  but minus syrup, and to the butter, sugar and syrup she added a few spices, not sure what they were - think ground cumin, paprika (or was it chilli?) and maybe even garam masala.  Don't think she even baked it when mixed together (perhaps the recipe is on her website, or does anyone remember it?). Worth experimenting anyway as I love spicy nibbles. 

As ever, thanks for comments.  Am pleased that Susan G was able to let us know the consistency of the home-made Marrons Glace

Did do the 'slanket wearing' the other way round last year Les.  Laid it on my chair, then put my arms in the sleeves and wrapped the lower part round my knees before draping over the other two quilts.  This works well as when I need to walk about, it is easy for me to remove myself from the sleeves et al. 
Today will bring out my 'slanket' to use again this way as the days now seem to be getting colder (but still variable). Yesterday I 'fasted', only having a couple of glasses of water, as couldn't face eating anything at all.  So this did mean I felt a bit more than chilly.  However, the usual 'hottie' to cuddle soon warmed me up.

As you say Jane, wearing several thin layers does work better than a couple of thicker ones, and much the best way for me as I just can't work wearing anything 'heavy'.  Normally preferring to cook wearing only short sleeves (although in winter do wear long sleeves and then push them up to the elbows when cooking).  I do have several very thick and heavy cardigans (that Gill knitted and gave to me, but unless the weather is VERY cold, find they make me feel almost claustrophobic.
The one jumper I do find very comfortable is a pure wool, high neck, (man's) black golfing jumper (second hand). there is really nothing as good as wearing pure wool for keeping warm.  I saw a lovely wool jumper advertised in a mag that I almost sent for - until I read it had to be hand washed.
Remembering the days of when all wool had to be hand washed, and the problems with 'wringing out' without stretching it, and then laying the very damp articles on towels (usually over the bath) to dry really has put me off wanting to do it again.   Not so difficult when washing baby or toddler's clothes (in those days bootees, mittens, bonnets, coats, leggings, jumpers, scarves, hoods, gloves, socks etc were all hand-knitted with pure wool), as small garments are easy to handle.  No so with adult sizes.

When acrylic fibres were used instead of wool for all the above, then this made washing (by machine) so much easier.  We all gave blessings for this, but have to say none of the man-made fibres seem to be able to keep us as warm as wool.  The more recent 'fleece' material (made into jackets and blankets) does feel warmer than most other 'yarns'. 
Believe there is some wool that can be washed in a machine, and also be spun-dry, but having tried this still feel it lacks the real warmth that the 'pure wool' of my youth seemed to have.

Now that we have to count our pennies when it comes to heating our homes, then we should begin hunting out garments/blankets etc made from wool, and use/wear these to keep ourselves really cosy.  Sometimes hand-knitted garments are sold in charity shops/jumble sales, and - with care- these can be unpicked, the wool washed to remove kinks, and then re-knitted (or crocheted) to make garments or throw of our choice. 

Wearing thick slippers to keep feet warm has been mentioned, but I seem to have difficulty with these although I do have a couple of pairs (different styles).  Up until I had cellulitis, I used to prefer to walk bare-foot when ever possible, sometimes even outdoors.  Then after my 'c'tis' was told never to walk bare-foot again (any cut could cause the problem to recur), so now walk around always wearing support stockings, maybe with socks over in colder weather - and this only because our rooms (including the kitchen) all have fully fitted carpets (other than the bathroom which has a part carpeted, and the rest tiled floor - with mats).
When wearing slippers I can't seem to walk properly and often stumble, so do without.  There are only two pairs of shoes that I can wear outdoors with any comfort and stability.  Although - at a pinch - my chunky plastic 'crocs' are OK when worn in our garden.  I have been told that if I wish to walk on the beach and have a paddle in the sea, then it is these 'crocs' I must wear, I am not to walk/paddle barefoot.
Walking along the sands and paddling barefoot in the water is the one thing that gives me pleasure when at the sea-side, so if I have to wear shoes, then what's the point?  Just as well that Morecambe has very few beaches that are safe to walk on.  Only the other day a lady was rescued after she walked out a few yards over the sand in Morecambe Bay and got stuck in the mud/quicksand. With the tide coming in fast (and here it DOES come in fast), it was lucky that the coast-guards managed to rescue her in time as the water had already reached up to her armpits (bet pulling her out was a bit painful for her.

With a mention recently of 'take-away-meals', all too often on 'thrift' programmes (Superscrimpers etc), it does seem that many families do have an average of three 'takes' a week.  Perhaps they like the idea of 'dining out', but find that 'eating in' works out cheaper (but as long as someone still makes the meal for them).  Some people don't cook at all and eat only the 'readies' (whether bought from supermarkets to heat in microwave, or those delivered to the door, or 'fetched').

The late (dare I say his name now?) Jimmy Savile just about lived on pizzas.  He didn't own an oven, just a microwave, and either had the pizzas delivered or would go to a local pizza parlour to eat.  As he lived in a penthouse at the end of Roundhay Park close to where we lived in Leeds, I would often see him frequenting a well-known pizza restaurant (this even closer to where we lived).  I've taken visitors to eat there as many other well know 'celebs' used to frequent this restaurant as there was a theatrical B & B boarding house just a stone's throw away, and it was great fun (especially for guests) to see who was sitting at the tables when we were there.

We were lucky in Leeds, as many series were made in or around the city.  Our home once was clearly seen in an episode of 'A Touch of Frost' (was that the name, David Jason played Insp. Frost)?  My hairdressers salon was used for a scene, as was the local primary school where my daughter went.  Roundhay Park is often in scenes and I've known several people who rented out their homes to the TV companies to use as a 'location' - either just for a knock on the door, or for internal shots.  So seeing scenes shot for different 'dramas' was almost a weekly experience.

Our family was fortunate because B - always a 'water baby' - at that time used to scuba-dive and gave tuition for this at his club.  He was asked to teach someone called Roy Alon, who at that time was a stunt-man (his name appearing on credits for the James Bond Films, Last of the Summer Wine, and many, many others .  Believe he has now moved on to 'co-ordinating' (believe he runs his own company) rather than actually doing the stunts (he must have reached retirement age by now) as I still see his name appearing over the past few years on many credits (both TV and films) .

At that time, Roy Alon was working on 'Follifoot' (anyone remember that?), the location being a farm between Harewood House and North Leeds (less than 10 minutes drive from where we lived).  So Roy took myself and one (or more) of my children to watch the filming there.  We were a bit disappointed when we found that 'the Lightening Tree' was a rootless, dead tree, stuck into a base of concrete, and not 'the real thing', but that's TV for you.
Believe that B also taught Christian Rodska (who was also in Follifoot) to scuba dive, and this actor's name still comes up on the screens where he acts in recent dramas/films.

The other night was watching (yet again, but I really enjoy this film) "Rita, Sue, and Bob too".  Of the two main character (girls) one was very familiar to me (having appeared in many other series), the other I suddenly realised that her face too was familiar, but couldn't for the life of me remember what I'd seen her in.  Whenever she was on the screen, full face, I attempted to place her as another character, then suddenly it hit me.  She was in 'Benidorm' and then 'Downton Abbey' - the latter playing the ladies maid:  Miss O'Brien.  Checked the credits and I was right (cannot even begin to spell her name as its Irish, but think her Christian name would 'sound' like - Shivoorn). Am sure you know who I mean.  How young she seemed when the early film (1987) was made, but other than appearances, hasn't really changed that much.

With so many repeats on TV these days it is a real shock to see someone from the past (that has not been seen for perhaps two decades) suddenly appear again.  How old they now look (some age better than others, Joanna Lumley always looks the same), but even worse, how old that makes me feel.
We here of well-known people dying, and at (say) 70 no-one feels it is unexpected.  Youngsters would think they were very old anyway.  No one ever feels these 'celebs' have popped their clogs a mite too early.  As am older than that, am now feeling that my time is not far off, and if I woke up one morning to find I'd died in the night, I'd be very cross indeed.  But as long as I still feel 35 in my brain (on a good day, yesterday I felt at least 60!), then my close on 80 years is just a number.  Even so, feel I've wasted far too much of my life and wish I'd done things differently.  Or at least better.

Goodness me, is that the time?  Perhaps I should have made the cake after and not before my blog.  Tomorrow I may have a late start as I have to make the scones before I do much else, then once B has left, may (or may not) have a chat with Gill, but will write at least something for you to read before lunch.  Hope you all have a good weekend.  TTFN.