Saturday, June 30, 2012

All Change!

Starting today with a photo showing how the avocado plant (on the left) and the lemon tree (on the right) are progressing. As you can see the avocado is romping away, but although the lemon tree is growing more slowly it is getting quite sturdy. Don't know what's got into me, but all of a sudden can't stop working! Yesterday tried baking a savoury loaf (Parmesan cheese with sundried tomatoes - yes, it was a mix), using the dough to make one small loaf then cut the remainder into six, flattened these out, sprinkled grated cheese over, then folded and formed into rolls. Fitted the six into a round quiche tin (five round the sides one in the middle), sprinkled more grated cheese on top. The loaf took 30 minutes to bake, the rolls 15 minutes. As leaving the bread to rise before baking, the rolls had swelled to just touching each other, so after baking they had a lovely 'tear and share' effect. B ate one before he went out, I ate a couple later, and as I went to bed before B returned, discovered this morning only one roll left, so seemingly enjoyed. Myself had a couple of slices from the small loaf toasted for my breakfast. Very nice too, although as far as I am concerned 'the jury is out' when it comes to deciding whether I prefer savoury to 'normal' bread.

Also decided to use up all the odds and ends I had in the larder that would go into a Chocolate Refridgerator Cake. Was inspired to do this by a similar recipe in a current cookery mag only this one was called 'Rocky Road'. As I did not wish to use all the ingredients shown, made my own version, this using 6 oz (175g) dark chocolate (ordinary, not the 79%). 1 oz (25g) butter, and 1 rounded tablespoon of golden syrup. These heated together in a bowl over simmering water until the chocolate/butter had melted.

In another bowl mixed together some mini-marshmallows, two sponge fingers (the dry sugar coated ones) broken into small pieces, 3 digestive biscuits (broken up), 4 broken up glace cherries, a handful of chopped crystallised ginger, three broken and crushed meringues....Think that was the lot. Poured the melted chocolate mixture over this and stirred the lot together. Only just enough chocolate to coat, but could have added more if necessary.

Lined a 9" (23cm) tin with clingfilm and put the 'cake mix' into that, spreading it as flat as possible, then placed another layer of clingfilm on top and pressed it harder with my fingers (so it all held together), put it in the fridge to set and then left B to help himself later. Haven't myself tasted it, but B liked it very muchPart of yesterday afternoon was spent hoovering. It always pleases me when I use our old Hoover Junior as it still works well (and it must now be over 60 years old!!!). Took me quite a while to sort out the piles of mess either side of B's chair, a mix of different books he had been reading, some empty envelopes, empty crisp packets, empty lemonade bottles..... but at least it looks good now. Was a bit annoyed with him when he came home and accidentally knocked over the large plastic sack containing all the rubbish so it spilled onto the floor - and he left it like that, so I got up and put it all back while he sat there and said "I was going to do that". As if!

My Beloved really doesn't do 'tidy' (in the same way he doesn't do 'stress') so is far happier when his home is a mess than when it isn't, however enough is enough, so will have to try and keep as much clutter out of the way as possible, and clean the living room only when he is out of the house. Even though I have put a box by one of his chairs, and a table by the other (for him to keep his things in (he also has a filing cabinet by his chair), he still piles things up and overflowing. Considering he used to be in the air force where the discipline was very strict when it came to 'tidy', and also sailing where everything has a place and be kept in it, you would think he would be the same at home. Maybe this his 'rebellious' streak coming out as he has often told me (when being asked - and nicely - to do something) he comes back with "I won't be told". So doesn't do what has been asked "until I'm ready to do it" (remembering his other bit of reasoning "If I wait long enough, someone else will do it for me". Well, maybe I was a bit like that when younger and my mum asked me (constantly) to keep tidying my bedroom. Not that I did this deliberately, just didn't want to go and tidyt it up THEN.

Not sure you would like our weather at the moment Lisa. Myself was amazed when I read the paper and saw the news yesterday. Our country - in many areas but not ours - had torrential rainfall, terrific thunderstorms, even a tornado, the like of which has never been known before. Trains were stopped because of landslides, and roads and houses were flooded. Hailstones as big as golfballs fell in Leicestershire. They are saying this is the wettest June on record. However, since records have been kept for only 100 years, this doesn't mean it is abnormal considering the age of this planet.

In 'Agricultural Records' (a book I once lent and never got back) it did give references to weather from about 1066, fleetingly at first, and then daily as it got closer to the publication date. Do remember a mention of huge hailstones falling in Yorkshire one year in June a few centuries ago. Another mention of when for two years the sun never seemed to shine at all (think this was because of a huge volcano somewhere that had erupted and caused clouds to hide the sun). Then of course a couple or so years of winter when the Thames froze over and they held fairs on the ice.
There were also years of drought, years of storms, years of heavy rainfall. So what's new?

Can understand Lisa not wishing to cook when the weather is hot. Salads seem the obvious meals to serve, although suppose with a pasta salad the pasta does have to be cooked first. Cold meats, pork pies, hard-boiled eggs and cooked shell fish eat well with any salads. Will have to look up some recipes and publish just in case we have a hot spell.

Am myself going to buy some lolly moulds so that I can freeze fruit juice. B prefers ice-cream but I love sucking on a frozen lolly when the weather is hot.

You certainly got caught in that bad storm Kathryn. Can't imagine how you coped (I can't even bear to go out in a light shower, let alone a torrent!). You must be an amazing person to manage to deal with it at a personal level let alone take care of the ponies and any other riders around.

Well done for your pony (and rider) getting a rosette, and also for your own.

What's the betting the cow decides to have her calf while you are 'in loco parentis'. Am sure she will manage well all by herself.

As to the boil and bake cake, have published my favourite before but will do so again. Myself do use dried mixed fruit (containing peel) as B likes the peel, but this can easily be picked out if not wanted. I also add a few chopped glace cherries and always soak the fruit overnight in either a little water or flavoured fruit tea before using. This helps to keep the cake nice and moist. If there is any water/tea left after soaking, use this as part (or all) the water used when making the cake.

The cake is best made several days before being eaten as it can then 'mature'. If you wish you could sprinkle a little rum or brandy over it before wrapping and keeping.

To avoid overcooking the cake, the tin is best wrapped round with brown paper before baking (or it could be stood inside a larger tin), also half-way through baking time, cover with tented foil to prevent the top getting too hard.

Although giving the original recipe, myself find the timings of the recipe not right for my own oven, and feel there might have been an error when it was first published, so best to check after the first hour of baking at the lower heat (total one and a half hours of cooking time) to avoid the cake ending up too dry. Use the skewer test to make sure the cake is cooked before removing from the oven.

Boil and Bake Cake:

12 oz (350g) mixed dried fruit

4 oz (110g) margarine

4 oz (110g) brown sugar

5 fl oz (150ml) water

8 oz (225g) self-raising flour

2 medium eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon mixed spice

Put the fruit, margarine, sugar, and water into a saucepan, give a stir then heat to boiling point. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Remember to stir occasionally to prevent the fruit sticking. Do not boil for longer or it will end up solid! Remove from heat and leave to cool for half an hour.

Meanwhile sift the flour and spice together in a bowl. Add the contents of the pan to the flour, add the eggs, and mix everything well together. Pour mixture into a greased and lined 7" (18cm) cake tin and bake in centre of the oven for 30 minutes at 170C, gas mark 3.

Reduce heat to 150C, gas 2 and continue cooking for a further hour and a half.

When cooked, leave to cool in the tin for 20 minutes or so before turning out to cool on a cake airer.

As this cake keeps well, when cold either store in an air-tight tin, or wrap closely in foil for protection.

In half an hour my groceries may be arriving. As we are at the Carnforth end of Morecambe (and this is where the deliveries come from even though we have a Tesco on Morecambe) we are usually the first delivery within that two-hour time slot. Sometimes they arrive even earlier than the chosen time, but not often. Am looking forward to filling up those empty shelves, but yesterday had a real guilt feeling when I was reading (or watching) something about the Third World and the poverty and starvation there. Why is it we are so obsessed with food here that we feel there is a need to keep writing about it and wanting to eat more and different dishes to tempt our palates? After all, food is only our 'fuel' and as long as we eat enough (and that needn't be a lot) of the right nutrition, that is all we need, and most of it could be raw with no need to even make it into a 'proper' meal.

I suppose having enough food (for us - and for everyone else) gives us a feeling of security, and during this recession, perhaps the only security we have at the moment. Also 'comfort eating' can also help when times are hard.

Perhaps it would be good to be able to switch lives now and again and experience life in (say) Greece at the moment, where we here of hospital workers not being paid for 8 months and having to eat at soup kitchens... even worse in the heat of parts of Africa where food and water is in very short supply. However much we grumble about the price of our food, when it comes to the variety sold in the stores - we have never had it so good, so should at least be more than grateful for that. Or should we? My mother managed to serve good meals (albeit 'plain food') without all the imports of today. In those days it was mainly locally grown and always seasonal food. We knew what to expect to be served throughout the year, this could be a bit boring, but it always tasted a great deal better than anything we have today.

Tesco has arrived - said it would be early. So have to dash. See you tomorrow.

Friday, June 29, 2012


This time yesterday I was busy in the kitchen, but more of that later. First must reply to comments.

Funny you should mention getting out your sewing machine Lisa, the same thought came to me this week - I haven't used mine for several years and a lot of my clothes need 'down-sizing' due to weight loss. Yesterday even sent an order off for new 'smalls' as really did need ones that fit well. It's not like me buy new clothing, but as it's about six years since I did, think I can allow myself one 'treat' (if you can call new knickers a treat).

How I wish our weather was more like that 'over the pond', although perhaps not at hot as it is in some areas (are we never satisfied with our weather in the UK?). Watching a repeat of a prog about our solar system late last night ended up being very grateful for whatever we get on this planet, as things could be a great deal worse. However much we dislike it, we do need the rain to survive.

There was me thinking that Canada was mainly English and French folk (although for 'English' perhaps 'Scottish' is nearer the truth). So was surprised when reading Margie's comment that there were a lot of Italian and Spanish living in Canada as well. Mind you, suppose most countries are a 'melting pot' of many cultures these days.
My Beloved is still watching football even though England is now out of the race, and am surprised how many countries really are getting themselves involved with this on-going footie matches.

Did see a mention of a bad thunderstorm on yesterday's TV news Jane, perhaps that was in your area (didn't hear where it was). We too had a thunderstorm, early afternoon, but we were more on the edge of it, and it soon went away. However, at that time, after a few sunny hours, the rain really pelted down, so was glad I'd decided to hang the washing on the airer rather than put it on the line in the garden to blow dry.

Not sure why your bread ends up 'doughy' Jane, maybe it needs cooking at a slightly higher temperature, or maybe allowing longer time to rise. Or perhaps slightly too much liquid. Ovens vary, as do 'rising temperatures', and the higher the bread rises in the tin, the lighter will be the crumb.

As expected, you had a very wet weekend in York Campfire, but other than that was pleased you enjoyed the company of friends. The home-made cakes sound delicious, and isn't it strange that nowadays these seem 'special', whereas in my youth these were taken for granted.

Thanks for that 'courgette (aka zuccini) butter/jam recipe Margie. Depending on the weather (and slugs) we often do get large crops of this veg, although some years not so. Not sure what is happening this year as have not grown any.

Now to my activities yesterday. Have to say that writing a list then working through it really is the best way (at least for me), although 'working through' is not exactly how it happened as instead of each on the list being done before the next was started, this time several things were being made at the same time. The term for this is 'multi-tasking' and it does seem (and proved) that it is women who can do this easily, men find it far more difficult.

Some years ago there was a prog on TV about multi-tasking, and we were shown how the same set tasks (think there were five) were all to be accomplished in just 15 (or was it 20?) minutes. Cannot remember all the tasks, but do know ironing had to be done, scrambled eggs cooked, the phone had to be answered, possibly washing up pots, and one other thing (changing a nappy?).
The woman of course managed to do the lot very easily without batting an eyelid, yet when a man had to accomplish them he immediately went to pieces. He seemed to need to complete each task before starting the next. When the phone rang whilst he was scrambling eggs - well of course he stopped scrambling and concentrated on the call while the eggs burnt (and possibly the iron was burning a hole on the ironing board at the same time). The woman held the phone in one hand to answer and stirred the eggs with the other as she talked, then when the call had finished still managed to stir the eggs whilst ironing the clothes with her other hand. Say no more!

It seemed to make sense to me to 'multi' when faced with my list:
Do laundry, hang out washing to dry
Sort out two drawers in the freezer
Remove frozen fish and poach
Make lemon curd
Bake a loaf of brown bread
Order new 'smalls'
Tidy conservatory
Write on-line grocery order for Tesco delivery

As I'd written the list before I sat down to 'chat' to you yesterday, the washing was already in the machine, so when I returned to the kitchen (8.15) the spinner was running, not sure for how long but I switched it off anyway. Immediately decided to start with making the bread dough in the machine, and whilst that was 'working' could do something else.

As the dough was being made, went and sorted out the freezer drawers and removed the white fish/smoked haddock/ salmon trimmings for B's Fish Risotto supper. All the fish had to be poached from frozen, so all I had to do was put the fillets/trimmings into a large saucepan, cover with water and then set over the heat to come to the simmer.
As I'd opened some larger packs of fish, then put the remaining frozen fish into smaller bags - these taking up less room when placed back in the freezer.

Decided then there was time to make the lemon curd, so after grating the zest and squeezing juice from the lemons, put this in a bowl with sugar and butter and into the microwave it went. When dissolved, beat up the eggs (saving a couple of egg whites), added this to the bowl and gave three bursts of 1 minute on High with a beating in between and 'hey presto' lovely thick lemon curd. Enough to fill two small jars (yes found time to sterilise these too).

A sudden shower of rain meant it would be best for me to hang the washing on an airer in the conservatory, so took the laundry out of the machine and draped it over the rails. By then the fish was poached, exactly the same time the bread-machine 'blipped' to say the dough was ready, and so I removed the pan of fish from the heat and brought the dough to the table and put this into an already greased and floured loaf tin then set this in a bowl of warm water to rise.

Removed the fish from the pan and peeled away the skin, broke each fillet into 'chunks/flakes' and put in a bowl, covered and into the fridge until supper time. Reserved the poaching water for later.
Decided to do the washing up at that point. Once that was done thought - as I'd got the saved egg whites - might as well make some ice-cream (although that was not on my list).

Put the egg whites into my big mixing machine to beat up until thick, meanwhile heating sugar and water to make a hot syrup, this then poured slowly into the beaten whites to make an Italian meringue. This needed to continue being whipped until cooled, so I decided to try something seen recently on TV. This was to make an almost instant 'ice-cream' by putting frozen strawberries into a food processor, pouring over double cream and then blitzing. It really worked! The frozen fruit chilled the cream so much it ended up like a softish ice-cream (a Mr Whippy texture), and although this could have been eaten as-is, folded it into the now-cooled meringue, then put it in a couple of boxes into the freezer.

The bread mix used (Tesco's crusty brown bread) seems to rise faster than other mixes, so as then it was around 10.15 it was ready to be baked, so into the pre-heated oven it went. While that was cooking washed up the pots that had been dirtied since the first 'wash-up'.

Decided then I should get the 'prep' ready for supper. Already had the fish done, so measured out the rice, butter, chicken stock, wine, frozen peas, and chopped up a small onion and a couple of Peppadews, and gathered a handful of fresh parsley (to later chop and add to the risotto).

At 10.45 everything was done and dusted as regards the food. All I had to do was wait for the bread to finish baking, so sat down and wrote out a cheque for the 'smalls', and began to tidy the conservatory. Then what happened. B wandered into the kitchen carrying a tray that held 6 assorted plates and dishes and several items of cutlery. These were the ones used the previous evening to hold his 'snacks'. So this meant more washing up to be done. Well he could have been left to do it himself, but by then I'd got the bit between my teeth and just wanted to keep going.

The bread was baked shortly after 11.00, and by 11.30 everything on the list (and more) had been done, so I went into the living room with a cup of coffee and sat down to do the crossword. After that went and wrote up my grocery order, and by noon the days' work was done, other than hoovering the carpets as I intended doing during the afternoon while B was at the gym (he absolutely HATES me doing 'obvious' housework while he is in the house, and so I have to use the vacuum cleaner while he is out). Only yesterday B, at the last minute, decided to stay at home and watch tennis instead. So it will be this afternoon that the carpets get hoovered.

Have to say the Fish Risotto was very good, and it really IS worth taking time when making a risotto as it can make a difference if certain flavours are left out (or kept in). The way I make mine is to first melt a good knob of butter in a frying pan, then gently fry a finely chopped onion before adding the rice. Give this a stir so it is coated with the butter and becomes slightly translucent, then I add half a wine-glass of white wine. When this has been almost absorbed, then add about the same amount of a well flavoured and slightly concentrated chicken stock (home-made of course). With continual simmering and stirring, this soon gets absorbed and more chicken stock is added, or - as yesterday - I then used the 'fish stock' (the water the fish was poached in), to give more of a 'fishy' flavour. After about 20 minutes, when the rice was nearly ready (al dente), then added the chopped Pepperdew (not essential but it does add a bit of interest to a rather bland flavoured dish), and some frozen peas. Then folded in the cooked fish (another time I might add chunks of raw fish to the risotto and let them cook in that).

Finally added a smidgin more of fish stock so that the dish ended up 'creamy' and not 'dry' (a risotto dish should always be creamy) and folded in the chopped parsley. Then served it to B. He said there was enough for two! Yet, whilst making it - and B was watching me do it - I asked B if there would be too much, and if so I would eat what was left. He said no, he could eat it all. So of course he did. At least I did have a taste or three as it was cooking (a cook should always taste to make sure a dish is as perfect as it can be) so I know it really was good.

For 'afters' B had some of the strawberry ice-cream, and he said that was lovely. As I went to work on the comp whilst the footie was on, noticed by his chair he had two huge bars of chocolate, and when I returned after the match was over, all that had been eaten as well.

Although it is wonderful that my Beloved is so healthy - he has just had his yearly check-up and everything is normal, no high blood pressure or cholesterol etc. - how can he remain like that when he can eat lbs of butter per week, pints of double cream, bowls of home-made beef dripping, portions of food that would feed five thousand let alone one, and countless bars of chocolate? And he always likes half a bottle of wine with most of his evening meals. B says he is fit because he doesn't smoke. Well neither do I. but still have problems with my weight.. Also B says it is because he doesn't take sugar in his drinks (he seems to forget all the sugar in the cakes, and sweets that he loves). Myself like to believe (possibly wrongly) that is it good home-cooking that is the secret. Avoid the addititives and preservatives and eat 'natural' foods and we can't go wrong.

Probably the exercise B takes (gym 2 or 3 times a week) does help keep his weight down, but when it comes to his blood pressure think that his lack of 'stress' throughout his life has helped a great deal. B doesn't do 'stress'. He can get very cross and 'shouty' when things aren't going his way, but that is more crosspatch and tantrums than real pressures. He avoids things that stress me out like worrying about money, responsibilities, things like that. 'Let other people worry about them' is his philosophy. He is very much a 'tomorrow' man (put off something as long as possible "and if you put it off long enough someone else will do it'), and when having nothing very much to do prefers to sit in his chair and nod off (and he does that a lot these days which I find a bit worrying - sometimes even nodding off during a footie match, can you believe that!).

So we - who can sometimes get stressed - should perhaps take a leaf from B's book - let things ride over us a bit more. Why worry, it may never happen. Makes sense.

Am taking it a bit easy this morning as other than doing a bit more sorting out of my larder (just in case I have missed something that needs re-stocking), and same with the fridge, have nothing much to do (other than shoving the hoover around). Am even enjoying watching Wimbledon, and how good it is to see the sun shining there, I expected it to be a washout. We seem to have several up and coming English players this year and although few will reach the second week, at least it is very good to know that we do have at least more players this year than just Andy Murray - who only just managed to win yesterday.

As I write the sun has suddenly begun shining, but the sky is mainly overcast, and it could well turn thundery again (thunderstorms have a habit of circling around for a couple or so days, usually rumbling at about the same time). Seems to be quite a high wind today - so what's new? Whether it is because we live on the coast or whether winds are more usual these days, but can never remember there being so much constant wind half a century (or less) ago.

Tomorrow will have the pleasure of my groceries being delivered (the kind of retail therapy I need at the moment, and always enjoy). Quite a lot of my order is for fresh fruits, vegetables and salads as really need to keep away from the carbos in my aim to reduce weight (again!). Not the cheapest of ingredients, but my order still stays within my budget and that's all that matters.

Considering that cream and butter and meats and cheese (all things B loves and expects) have all increased in price, am surprised that my food budget is still under control. Probably stocking up when the above are 'on offer' helps. Also now always making bread instead of buying toasting loaves, and making soups instead of using the canned and 'cuppas'. 'Extending' meat dishes (casseroles etc) by using less meat and more veggies (or adding TVP), certainly cuts costs. Growing our own veg (not that we do now) would of course make a great difference to our budget, but at least the soft fruits we have in the garden (plus apples and pears), go a long way to help. Not to mention the herbs and mixed salad leaves on the conservatory windowsill.

But I've said all this before, so it would be helpful (to me and others) if a 'sticky spot' could be highlighted by one or t'other of our readers. Where are the problems areas when it comes to YOUR frugal cooking? Is there more that can be done that hasn't yet been mentioned!
Time I think to get our heads together and review the situation, and then move further down the cost-cutting trail, but still find ways to serve fabulous food to our families.

With that thought will love you and leave you for today, and myself will try just that little bit harder to save a few more pennies (I've already deleted quite a few 'treats' for myself that I'd put in my virtual shopping trolley - well, other than extra and unnecessary expence, they would all add inches to my hips!). Might even have to give up Spam! Maybe next Lent.

With yet another weekend coming up, we could think about rolling up our sleeves and do some baking, not because it will naturally save money, but think how pleased everyone will be. Remember that home-cooked food is THE BEST, and very expensive indeed if we have to go out and buy something similar (but not even as good). Isn't it worth giving up an our of our weekend to gain this 'special something'? I like to think it is. You may think differently. But whatever you decide to do, make sure it is enjoyable.
If you can find time tomorrow, hope to 'see you then'. TTFN

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Fast Tracking

Began today by writing out a list of all things that need doing. Most have been mentioned on this site this week as 'to do today', but then never got round to doing them. So today will roll up my sleeves and work through the list from start to finish. For some reason I CAN do what should be done when I have a list to follow, rely on my memore (!) and that means nothing gets done.

So today will be a short blog as I am determined to start work no later than 8.00am. The laundry has already been put in the washing machine and got past it's first 'stuck' cycle, but I need to be in the kitchen when it spins as it won't switch this off.

As you can imagine, nothing much got done yesterday, we even ended up with a Chinese takeaway so it HAS to be fish for supper tonight (on my list as 'thaw out fish for supper', think I can remember to make supper with the fish as haven't written that bit down).

Thanks for your comments. Having taken a look at the site in more detail, see that all this 'spam' that is coming in seems to be deleted at source. I still get the 'copy' sent to my email address (as do all the comments) but the 'spam' is not published, so that's one problem already dealt with. Did get another today - this time with a name (Kagisco), but definitely another 'spam', so am not even going to acknowledge it.

As I was not really paying enough attention to the family at the variety show Mabel, thought it was the middleclass ones that were in the audience (the wealthy father was sitting by himself in a box), as you say the poor family could never have afforded a night out such as that one.

Certainly nostalgia time when you see a house similar to the one you lived in Sairy. My B lived in a similar house, and it could not have been easy as it was one of the terraced type where you stepped straight from the street into the front 'parlour'. This was the room his grandma lived in. Behind that was the main living room - this had a coal fire (they used to have a tin bath put in front of that for them to bathe in). Behind that was a tiny scullery with just cold running water and a sink and a cooker. The 'privy' (loo) was outside, next to the coal place. There was no bathroom upstairs, just two main rooms and one small one.
B's sister had the small bedroom, he and three of his older brothers shared one bedroom (two in a bed), and his parents had the other bedroom. One older brother had left home and gone to work on the clipper ships bringing (I think wool) from Australia to England.

It must have been a very tight squeeze living in such a small house, but they all seemed to manage, and when I first visited them it was only B and his sister living there with their parents, the other lads were married and had their own homes (one being next door). How I envied their family way of life, they used to have great family gatherings and parties, yet my parents (who had so much more) never seemed to enjoy themselves, but then we do tend to remember some bad memories and - conveniently forget - the good and right ones). Even so, proves that money does not always make for a good life.

You certainly took me back when you mentioned playing with a tin of buttons minimiser deb.
My mum always used to remove buttons from old clothes (the fabric never wasted, always went into the 'rag-bag' for cleaning purposes). Over time she got quite a collections and I used to love sorting them out. Used to save buttons myself when I got married, and our children also used to love playing with them.
Only the other day was clearing out a large tin where I keep some of my sewing bits and bobs and came across a card holding small linen-covered buttons. A full set as had never been used. Remember my liberty bodice used to have rubber buttons. Don't think any of these were kept.

Please excuse me if I depart now, it is exactly 8.00am and I really MUST start my chores for the day. Am going to get into Edwardian scullery maid role-play and this will help no end (role-playing always works well). Tomorrow will surely have plenty to tell you about, so hope you find time to have a 'look see' and find out.

Incidentally - our oil soaked carpet is still needing paper to mop it all up. Every day several sheets of the Daily Mail end up black and sodden with the oil. It must be nearly three weeks since the spill and still no sign of it easing off. But at least it IS being soaked up, that's is something to be glad about.

Enought chatting....must get on. TTFN.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

More Rain!!

After a couple or so dry days the rain has returned. Last night was very 'muggy', the humidity level in the late 70's as shown on my bedroom clock/thermometer, although the temperature itself was in the low 60's. This weather I'm finding really depressing, but then we are all having to put up with it.

B had chosen cauliflower cheese for his supper yesterday, so that allowed me time to first watch Andy Murray's match, an easy win so hope this continues.
Have to say was a bit disappointed in 'Turn Back Time' yesterday. The idea was good but wished it could have ALL been arranged to look as though in the time warp, it just seemed odd to see 'Edwardian' people travelling down a road filled with 21st century transport and road sweepers etc. However, it certainly gave a very good idea of what life was like in those days. Had to smile when I saw the wife in the poorer family grating something, using EXACTLY the same grater as I use today (it belonged to my mum and she probably used it before she was married).

B was reminded of his mother when he saw the lady 'take in washing' for his mother used to do the same, she also had to use a mangle and how she managed to get everything washed and dried in those days I don't know. No washing machines or spin dryers, let alone tumble dryers, and - of course - the ironing done with those flat irons that needed constantly heating over the fire.

My memories of my own children were not that dissimilar to the Edwardian middle class family, with the 'children should be seen but not heard' attitude, slightly kept apart from 'proper family life' as we know it today. Being an only child it was usually left to me to amuse myself, and can never remember my parents playing with me, other that board games and cards when I got older. Any 'togetherness' was more about teaching me to read, spell, learn how to write, etc., so I look forward to seeing what the next episode shows of family life as this would just about finish about the time my own life began.

Certainly the lifestyle of the Edwardians was very similar to the way I remember my young life when 'keeping a woman in her place' was the norm. The man earned the money, the women stayed at home and the meal had to be ready to serve when the man of the house returned from work with his slippers warming by the fire, and so on and so forth. When my dad left for work, my mother would always go up the long garden to shut the garage doors after my dad drove away, and every afternoon would go up there and open then for him to drive back in. At least he managed to shut them himself before coming inddors, then took off his coat, put on his warm slippers and sat at the table ready to be served his meal. Every day was the same. How different things are today. Not necessarily for me as I'm stuck in my own time warp, but for the younger generations.

There were not many views of Morecambe, we did see our town hall (about a mile from where we live - it faces the sea), this was where the middleclass man worked, but only at a desk, the other workers in the room were from the present day, which again didn't 'feel' quite right. According to B, the poorest man (a jobbing labourer who had to find his own work), was filmed doing something with boats in the boat yard at B's sailing club, so will be looking forward to seeing that.
The scene on the beach where the children were playing was a bit deceptive. It looked as though Morecambe had long golden sands, but this was clever photography, for there are very few sandy beaches that are safe to walk on (the rest being quicksands). A couple of tiny sections on the front have had sand put there to make a 'beach' for children to play, these closer to the Midland Hotel. We haven't yet seen the Midland as it wasn't built in Edwardian times, but am sure we will get a closer look (maybe even inside) in the next (or following) episode), this being one of the places that the 'wealthy' family would be expected to visit.

Even more 'anonymous' comments have arrived, and am sure they must be from the same person because there is some similarity in their 'illiteracy'. Obviously from 'over the pond' due to the different spelling of some words, and anyway, what they say doesn't seem to make sense. But all wishing me to click on to their own site.

Am grateful for 'real' comments, and thank Margie for hers. Certainly she is getting good weather compared to other parts of Canada, and it does seem that globally the weather is not as it should be for the time of year. A bit of the 'Goldilocks' as it's either too hot, too cold, and rarely 'just right'.

Myself must really have a good search through my freezer drawers to use up what I've got, although with a freezer no harm (other than loss of flavour) happens if frozen food is left in longer than it is meant to. But of course always best to use rather than store a long time as (unlike a larder) a freezer costs money to run, so what could have started off as a cheap cut of meat could end up costing as much as a more expensive joint. It is always suggested (unless instructions state otherwise) that frozen food is always kept for no more than 3 months to make best use of a freezer. Not that I take any notice. Some things have been in my freezer for over a year!

Living on a hill gillibob will take a lot of worry away when it comes to rain and so forth. It may be a bit of a slog carrying heavy bags up a hill after shopping, but myself remember that we lived at the bottom of a hill in Leeds, and our cellar constantly being flooded after heavy rain, think chosing a house higher up the hill would have been better.
Here in Morecambe we live on 'the flat'. There is a slope about a quarter of a mile further down towards the prom, so no danger of us flooding if there is a very high tide with a high wind. The houses on the prom used to be flooded by sea water, but a lot has been done now to prevent that happening again.
Having said that, after a lot of rain the ground here can get very soggy, and I dread to think what it is like under our floorboards, the ground floor of the house being fully carpeted when we had it surveyed and the surveyor didn't check under. We can walk over our lawn and the water squelches over our boots, so the drainage must be bad. Perhaps that is why there was such a deep and huge fishpond (that B has removed and filled in). The water drained into that. With no slope the ground soaked water now just stays soaked. Perhaps why the previous owner(s) have planted many leafy shrubs, these certainly are look happy after our recent bad weather.

Think it HAS to be fish for supper tonight as have been planning to cook some all week. If I thaw out and poach enough, there will be 'planned' leftovers to make some fishcakes (as I have a lot of parsley that needs using up). My fridge shelves are almost empty (that's a first) so will soon have to restock the 'fresh', and whilst ordering, will probably stock up with more 'dry goods' and anything that has a long shelf life that is on offer and that is normally used.

Also have to make another loaf (seem to be baking bread every other day at the moment), this time a brown one. Made a trifle last night, B eating a third, so I went and decided to treat myself to a portion (taking a third). Think that shocked B to the core, he is used to eating 'treat's all himself. Bet he eats the last portion pretty darn quick tonight in case I decide to have some more.

A late start due to having my hair done before 'blogging', so as it will shortly be noon, will wind up for today then hopefully back at my usual time tomorrow. See you then?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Even If....

Many years ago was talking to a friend who said she never served fish to her family because she herself didn't like it - even though her family did. It occurred to me that I don't give recipes for food that I don't use - grapefruit being one. Apparently this should not be eaten when taking pills for high blood pressure, so I don't. Mind you, I used to love grapefruit and really miss eating it.

Today am giving a few recipes using grapefruit because other people still DO eat it, and it's not fair to stick to only what I eat and forget the rest. Because grapefruit is sharp rather than sweet, it is are best used for salads or starters, although the sweeter pink grapefruit can be quite refreshing added to a fresh fruit salad for dessert during the hot (!) summer days.

The first recipe is very attractive in appearance, especially if the larger prawns are used, although the small (frozen then thawed) peeled prawns also work well. If you have no wholegrain mustard, use Dijon - the English mustard being too hot. Rocket leaves or other spicy mixed salad leaves could be served instead of watercress. The grapefruit can be the ordinary yellow, or if you prefer, use the sweeter pink or red grapefruit (or use one yellow and one of the pink/red). Nothing wrong with using canned grapefruit segments if you prefer. Drain well and use some of the liquid to add to the dressing (freeze the surplus for another use).
Prawn Salad with Grapefruit: serves 4
2 grapefruit
1 bag (or bunch) watercress, big stalks removed
9 oz (250g) cooked peeled king (jumbo) prawns
1 large avocado, peeled and sliced
3 tblsp olive oil
2 tsp wholegrain mustard
Using a sharp knife, slice away the peel and most of the pith from the fruit, then remove the segments. Do this over a bowl to catch the juice, and also squeeze what's left (membrane) to extract even more juice.
Divide the watercress, prawns, and avocado between four individual plates, then scatter the grapefruit segments over. Whisk together the oil and mustard with 4 tablespoons of the grapefruit juice, then drizzle this over the salad and serve.

Blushing Grapefruit Salad: serves 4
3 pink or red (or both) grapefruit
2 tsp sunflower oil or olive oil
1 small red onion, finely sliced
half tsp soft brown sugar
handful fresh mint leaves, torn into shreds
2 oz (50g) toasted cashew nuts, chopped
handful fresh coriander leaves (opt)
Slice the peel and pith from the grapefruit and remove segments. Place in a bowl and set aside.
Put the oil in a small frying pan and fry the onion until fairly crisp and changing colour, then stir in the sugar until it dissolves. Remove from heat and leave to cool.
Spread the grapefruit segments over a shallow serving platter and sprinkle the onion, mint, cashews, and coriander (if using) over the top. Serve with what you will.

This next recipe uses smoked salmon, and my suggestion is - as the fish is torn into pieces, then use a pack of the cheaper smoked salmon trimmings. The approximate weight is good enough, use less fish and more grapefruit. Whichever works out cheapest. Served with buttered brown bread, this makes a good starter for a dinner party.
Smoked Salmon with Grapefruit: serves 4
3 grapefruit (a selection of colours if you can)
4 fl oz (100ml) olive oil
1 lemon
approx 12 slices smoked salmon (see above)
flat-leaf parsley or coriander for garnish
Cut away the peel from the grapefruit over a bowl and remove the segments. Keep any juice that drips and also squeeze the membrane to extract even more. Boil this juice for several minutes until it has reduced to one or two syrupy tablespoons, then mix this with the olive oil to make a dressing, and set aside.
Treat the lemon as the grapefruit, removing peel and segments. Add the lemon flesh to the grapefruit, the begin arranging the salmon, grapefruit and lemon segments over four individual plates, tucking the salmon between the segments, under and over in any way you like (as long as it looks attractive). Spoon the dressing on top and garnish with the herbs. Serve with slices of buttered brown bread.

Thanks for comments. Sounds as though you missed being flooded out gillibob, but it must have been a touch and go situation in your area at the time. Yes, a tea-rooms would be something I'd love to have (or organise, or cook for), if only I could have known when young enough to do something about it. Mind you, needed the money to set up, and as we didn't have that, all pipe dreams I suppose.

Your visit to a tea-rooms sounded lovely Alison, what a wonderful variety of foods you were given. It would be interesting to know the filling in those sandwiches. Might give me some idea, as I often get cook's block when it comes to what to put into sarnies. Tend to take the easy route and use cooked ham, or tuna, sweetcorn and mayo, sardine, or egg mayonnaise.... not forgetting Spam sandwiches of course (my favourite!).

Goodness me Eileen, how time flies. Is it really 35 years since we had our last Wimbledon champion? And how long did we have to wait for that? We have had very few British champions since Wimbledon started, can count them on the fingers of one hand (and then with some digits missing). As Andy Murray is playing today, I will certainly be watching his match, and will continue watching him throughout the tournament as long as he can keep going. The rest I am not interested in. Well, not at the moment, I may keep watching - always used to in the old days when there were 'watchable' players such as John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg, Yvonne Goolagong.... Today much of the pleasure of watching has been ruined because of the continual loud grunts when each ball is struck, mainly from the women players. So tend to be more selective about who I watch.

Well, if I wish to keep my afternoon clear for the 'Andy match', then had better get on with my domestic chores. Today began sunny, but has clouded over and despite the temperature in the London area being in the high 20C's, our area is expected to be much cooler. Still at least warmer than many of our recent days. If the sun comes out again might grab half an hour of 'basking'.

Not sure tomorrow what time I'll be sitting at the comp as it is Norma the Hair day. Depends on how I get on today (clear the conservatory ready for her to put up her hair dryer, and place for me to put my chair), and what time I get up. Otherwise will 'blog' once Norma has gone (so it could be almost noon before I publish).

A reminder to those who are interested in domestic history that 'Turn Back Time' is on tonight (BBC1 9.00pm) beginning (I think) with the Edwardian period. More interesting to me of course because the series was filmed in Morecambe where we now live, so can truthfully say 'been there', if not back in time, at least to the area where it was filmed (just off the prom). If nothing else you can get an idea of my 'stamping ground' (or should this be 'scooting region').

The three adjoining houses used in the series were/are council owned, and I think not lived in when chosen for filming, the 'innards' were stripped away and refitted with traditional fittings and furnishing for each of the five eras to be covered in the series. Several of the characters in the series (council workers, street cleaners etc) were played by the people who do the same work for Morecambe council today.

Nearly 9.00am, that's an early finish for me for once. Still, hope at least the recipes were interesting. Nothing of interest re yesterday's meal, as B ate lunch out with our daughter, he didn't want a cooked supper, so it will probably be the fish dish today. All depends on Andy Murray - if his match carries on over supper time, then B will have to get his own.

Join me tomorrow to find out if I've managed to do anything at all worth writing about (doubt it), and if someone can tell me how to block those constant 'anonymous' comments that are now being sent daily by one (or more) who just want to promote their own site, then please let me know. TTFN.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Every Cloud....

My mood lightened a bit yesterday once the sun had come out. It turned out to be quite a lovely day, although a bit too windy for the sailing club to launch their boats. However, there were plenty of people calling in at the club house due to previously having booked to have a 'taster' (sailing). B returned home very pleased. All the scones and cakes I'd made had been bought and eaten (with enjoyment according to remarks). The club had provided refreshments (these had to be bought), and were selling a bacon butty with a cup of coffee for £1.50. A scone (with jam and butter, the jam was mine) were sold for 50p, a slice of my ginger cake also for 50p. Considering the scones were freshly baked and the jam (I have to say was gorgeous - mixed summer fruits), think that was a reasonable price.

Even so - interesting to work out profits, for - after working out the cost of making the gingerbread (they would have got AT LEAST 10 slices from that) and the five dozen scones, -the ingredients for the lot came to less than £5 total (rounded up to £5 as included a pot of jam). So selling 70 portions (scones/g.bread) this would have raked them in £35, less my £5 = £30 profit! Plus any more they got from selling their own cakes and bacon butties. This made me feel quite good (almost wishing I could open my own tea-rooms!).

Have to say have got my scone-making now down to almost perfection. Still not as good-looking as those sold in supermarkets (tops not quite flat) but risen enough and very light with plenty of fruit. Rustic enough to look 'artisan' (aka homemade I suppose), and when packed in a box (cardboard not plastic) between sheets of baking parchment whilst still warm, don't dry out and probably still retain 'oven freshness' when eaten a couple or so hours later.

Was so sorry to hear that the Hunstanton carnival was a disaster Sairy, especially as yesterday the weather improved here. Gill said it was raining heavily in Leicester when she phoned, so probably the bad weather had moved east. Seems now that many car-boot sales are being held indoors, rather than in open fields, so maybe you can find one close to home that is an 'all-weather' venue.

Thanks also to Frugal Queen for her comment. And still another from an anonymous (am sure it's always the same one) who wants us to visit his/her site. These all seem to relate to some cooking implement or utensil, not a proper blogsite. Am getting very irritated by them.

Stayed up all night and slept in my chair in the living room as a way to stop my joints aching. Have had far too many sleepless nights tossing and turning and wanted to feel more comfortable. Certainly my legs didn't pain at all, but will go back to bed tonight or this staying up will become a habit.

As expected, B 'ate out' (at the club), so was satisfied with a big bowl of the vegetable soup, and I finished off what was left. It really is amazing (well not really) how a few veggies (carrots, celery, potatoes, parsnip, onion, plus chicken stock) can make such a tasty and satisfying soup. Had it been winter I would have added a tea-cup full of pearl barley to turn it into a very satisfying 'broth'.

Knew that B was pleased that my scones et al had been enjoyed (basking in reflected glory?) as he'd bought himself a bag of Werther's Original and actually SHARED these with me without me even asking. That's a first (it's like getting blood out of a stone to get just one taste of B's sweeties). He even bought me a bar of peppermint Aero. Bang went my intention of not eating 'naughties' in my aim to lose a few pounds, but can start again today. Once I've eaten the Aero (this I managed to save until today). Let's hope the club keep wanting me to cook for them, then maybe B will bring me more.

Didn't make the bread yesterday, instead took a pack of pikelets from the fridge to thaw out, and as there was still a bit of the last loaf left thought that would keep B going until today. The first thing to do this morning once I leave this comp is to get some bread mix into the machine and get the dough started. The loaf will then be ready to eat later today.

Sorting out my larder is coming along nicely, will hope (I say hope for my intentions never go to plan) to do a proper check of contents of fridge and freezer. Am sure I have a lot more in the freezer than I think is there - 'Boris' is stuffed full (although his fridge side is half empty), and 'Maurice' (the smaller freezer with four drawers) is also full, but more neatly as in there I pack all the containers holding home-made ready meals and - well everything that will go in containers. 'Boris' is mainly stuff in bags, most have been opened and partly used, so the danger is when the door is open one falls out and spills contents on the floor and YES I know I should tie up the bags each time used, but usually don't. Well, I'm not perfect.

The above admission has now made me try to 'do even better', so maybe will clear the kitchen table, get out all my stored (and empty) containers (with lids), and then decant bagged frozen veggies into them so they will store more neatly and take up less room. I write the contents on each box using a thick black marker pen so easily read, the writing easily washed off in hot water when empty and the box needed to hold something else. Saves paying for labels.

Well, England lost their footie match. In a way was a bit sorry about that as it would have been nice for them to win the cup seeing that it is Jubilee year. We can still keep our fingers crossed that Andy Murray might win Wimbledon. Think the last time a British person (actually English) won Wimbledon was Virginia Wade during one of the Queen's celebratory years (was it her Silver Jubilee?). A previous memorable event was Edmund Hillary climbing Everest and think that was at the Queen's Coronation, so we HAVE to have something special happen again for her this year.

One of my 'kitchen appliance' that is being used more regularly these days (normally only in the winter months) is my slow-cooker (aka crock-pot). For one thing it is far cheaper (fuel-wise) than using the oven, and we need to cut down on fuel when we can. Suppose a pressure cooker is also fuel-saving but - at the moment - don't have one.

Although I used to cook my chicken liver (and other) pates in a terrine (well loaf tin), standing in a bain marie of water in the oven, am now starting to make pates in the slow-cooker. These of course take longer to cook, but as I said, fuel-cheaper.
Here is a pate that can be enjoyed by all, vegetarians or meat-eaters because it is just as tasty as any made with meat, even though none is included. The red beans give the pate a richer flavour and the pate is darker in colour. If you wish it to taste (and look) lighter then use cannellini or haricot beans. Flageolot beans are also mild and being pale green would add another colourway to the pate.
This pate is worthy enough to serve as a starter when entertaining.
Mushroom and Red Bean Pate: serves 8
1 lb (450g) mushrooms, sliced
1 onion, finely chopped
1 - 2 cloves garlic, or to taste, crushed
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 tblsp vegetable stock
2 tblsp white wine
1 x 400g can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 egg, beaten
2 oz (50g) wholemeal breadcrumbs
2 tsp each chopped fresh thyme and rosemary
salt and pepper
Put the mushrooms, onions, garlic, bell pepper, stock and wine into the slow-cooker. Cover and cook on High for about 2 hours or until the veggies are almost tender. Remove from heat and set aside to cool for 15 minutes.
Tip the above vegetable mixture into a food processor and add the beans. Blitz until it makes a smooth puree (you'll probably need to stop the processor and scrape down the sides once or twice to make sure everything gets a whizz).
While the veggies are cooking in the crockpot, take the time to lightly grease and line a 2lb (9oog) loaf tin. Then when the veggies are blitzed, clean out the crock-pot and place an upturned saucer in the bottom of the pot and pour in a good inch (2.5cm) of hot water and switch the pot onto High.
Meanwhile, put the mushroom and bean mixture into a bowl, then add the egg, breadcrumbs, herbs and seasoning to taste, Mix together thoroughly, then spoon into the prepared tin and cover with clingfilm or foil. Place tin in the slow cooker, the add boiling water to the pot to come just half-way up the sides of the tin. Cover pot with its lid and cook on High for four hours or until the pate is lightly set.
Remove tin from crockpot and place on a wire rack. Leave until completely cooled down then place in the fridge. Leave for several hours (overnight is even better), then when ready to eat, turn the pate out of the tin, remove lining paper and serve in slices. Good eaten as a starter with slices of Melba (or other) toast for spreading, or with salad and tomatoes as a light lunch.

Here is another 'terrine' that makes a really special starter when entertaining. Anything like this that can be made in advance and kept chilled to serve later is a winner when it comes to planning a dinner party menu. Same goes for desserts, then all we have to worry about on the day are 'the mains'.
We have many 'white fish' on sale (cod, haddock, coley, ling, plaice, halibut, hake....) just use the least expensive. I find the 'value' white fish fillets from Tesco very useful for a dish such as this, as are the cheaper packs of smoked salmon (but don't use 'offcuts' as this dish needs the salmon to be in strips). Canny cooks will be able to save the egg whites when making something else. If you haven't lemon mayonnaise for serving, then serve mayo blended with tartare sauce or a little lemon zest and juice. If you wish you could add lemon zest when blitzing the spinach.
Fish Terrine: serves 6
1 lb (450) skinless white fish fillets
8 oz (225g) smoked salmon, thinly sliced
2 egg whites, chilled
good pinch each salt, pepper, and nutmeg
8-9 fl oz (250 ml) double cream
2 oz (50g) baby spinach leaves
Cut the fish into inch (2.5cm) chunks, removing bones (if any). Spread out onto a plate and cover with clingfilm. Chill in the freezer fir 15 minutes or until very cold.
Meanwhile, lightly oil a 2 pint (1.2 ltr) loaf tin or terrine. Line the base and sides with slices of smoked salmon, overlapping slightly so there are no gaps and allow surplus to hang over the sides of the tin.
Remove the chilled (part frozen) fish from the freezer and place in a food processor. Blend to make a smooth puree, scraping down the sides a few times to make sure all the fish is blitzed.
Add the egg whites, one at a time, giving a good whizz between additions, then add the salt, pepper and nutmeg. While the processor is still running, pour in the cream but stop as soon as it is incorporated - otherwise the cream will thicken and we don't want that to happen.
Place the mixture into a bowl, the place the spinach leaves into the processor (no need to wash this first), give a quick blitz then add one third of the fish mixture and process together until just combined, again scraping down the sides as necessary.
As with the above recipe, put a saucer in the crock pot, add an inch of hot water, then set to heat on High.
Spread half the plain fish mixture in the base of the tin, top with the spinach mix, then the final layer of remaining plain mix. Fold the overhanging pieces of smoked salmon over the top to cover.
Give the tin a sharp bang on the work surface to knock out any air pockets, then cover the tin with a double layer of oiled foil. Put the tin in the slow cooker and pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides. Cook for three or three and a half hours or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Leave to cool in the tin, then chill in the fridge until firm. This can be kept covered to serve the following day if required. Turn out onto a plate or board, removing the lining paper. Cut into slices and serve on individual plates (or leave diners to help themselves) with a lemon mayonnaise (see above).

Must finish now as making the bread won't wait forever. Not going to bother watching Wimbledon, so can carry on with my 'stocktaking' this afternoon, and hopefully find something that can be used up to make for B's supper. Probably something with fish as seem to have quite an amount of this. A fish risotto is probably my best bet. Or a Paella. Both need about the same attention (hovering over the hob as they cook).

With the weather forecast looking good (at least until Thursday) hope that it is better for those who don't live on the west coast for here it is still overcast and gloomy, with a fairly strong breeze. But no rain. That's something to be grateful for. We should all enjoy our day(s), so I'll make a start with mine. Please join me tomorrow - so see you then.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


Is it today that is officially Midsummer's Day? Midwinter was more enjoyable. The weather is improving but only slightly. At the moment the wind has dropped and the rain is holding off, but the sky is very overcast and looks ominous, and I'm flippin' cold despite wearing winter clothes (one T shirt AND a jumper) on top of everything else. Not surprised that people prefer to book holidays abroad, there are plenty of places in Europe at the moment having sweltering temperatures. Why can't we?

Doubt this is unusual weather in the great scheme of things. We did once (many thousands of years ago) be under several feet of ice and snow, so we should thank ourselves lucky I suppose. With fossils proving that even before that this land had tropical temperatures, it could be we are swinging back to one or t'other. I know which I'd pick!

A thanks to Jane and Sairy for their comments (there was a third from an anonymous promoting his/her own website. Seem to keep getting these every day and they almost seem as though from the same person. Is there anyway I can delete these before they reach my site, or is that being a bit unfair?).

You had a very busy day Jane with your cooking and washing. Was very impressed. Shows what we can do when we put our mind to it. Should take a leaf out of your book and make 'n bake instead of shop 'n spend, this being something I feel like doing at the moment, retail therapy being almost as good as comfort eating.

Do hope the weather stays fair for the Hunstanton Carnival Sairy, and that your stall does a good trade. Let us know how you got on and, for others who are possibly thinking of selling their wares, what are the most popular crafts/food that people buy these days?

At least this morning spent a happy hour in the kitchen baking scones for B's 'activity weekend' at the sailing club. That made me feel a bit warmer. Away from the kitchen it is much cooler.
With virtually no wind at the moment, this could be a good day for sailing, but only if there is enough wind to fill the sails. Seems the weather never falls right on a Sunday (the normal sailing day), it's either too windy, or no wind, or if the wind is right then the tide is out. Am sure B misses his weekends at his sailing club in Yorkshire when it was possible to sail on Yeadon Tarn (small lake) virtually every day during the 'season'.

Think I'll sort out my larder (also fridge/freezer) today in the hope of finding some ingredients need replacing then I can have a bit of retail therapy and either go to Morrison's for replacement or order on-line. As I said above, nothing like a bit of shopping to cheer me up, although unfortunately this is now limited to buying food only, as can't afford to splash my cash on anything else.

With B eating at the club mid-day (or thereabouts) he probably won't want a proper supper again. Yesterday made a bit pot of vegetable soup (using home-made chicken stock as the base) and even though we both had some later in the day, still plenty left, so this will probably do for our supper. Do need to bake some bread though. Now that I make bread dough with part milk, part water, it does keep fresher for longer, even the crusts don't dry out so fast. Will make a few mini-loaves extra as these eat well with soup.

One of my 'personal treats' is to slice one of the mini-loaves (gives about 8 - 10 tiny squares), and - after buttering - top these with an assortment of savoury things - similar to canapes (or even make them into mini-sandwiches). A good idea for a buffet party as well. Fresh home-made (mini) bread makes a lovely base, and can also be lightly toasted if wished.

Normally at this time of the year would be offering recipes for cold and refreshing dishes, but it seems that we all crave warming meals at the moment, so today's recipe is for a 'farmhouse soup' that comes from Italy. We can vary the veggies according to what we have.
Italian Farmhouse Soup: serves 4
2 tblsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 carrots, cut into large dice
6 oz (175g) turnips, peeled and diced
6 oz (175g) swede, peeled and diced
1 x 14 oz can chopped tomatoes
1 tblsp tomato puree/paste
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
1 tsp dried oregano
half red bell pepper, deseeded and diced
2.5 pints (1.5 litres) vegetable stock or water
2 oz (50g) macaroni (or other small pasta shapes)
1 x 14oz can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 tblsp chopped flat leaf parsley
salt and pepper
grated Parmesan cheese
Put the oil into a large pan and fry the onion until softened, the add the carrot, turnip, and swede. Fry for a further minute before adding the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, herbs, and peppers. Season to taste.
Add the stock (or water), give a stir then cover the pan. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the pasta and bring to the boil. Continue to simmer (uncovered) until the pasta is just tender (al dente), then add the red beans. Heat through for a couple or so minutes, then remove from heat and stir in the parsley. Check if the soup needs more seasoning. Serve hot with grated Parmesan to sprinkle on top.

Gill will be phoning shortly, she was on holiday last week so we have plenty of (joint) news to catch up on, so just time for me to sign off, do the usual spellcheck and editing, then in just over an hour (the length of Gill's call) will be back in the kitchen enjoying my 'sort out'. Whatever the weather, do hope you all enjoy the rest of your weekend bread. TTFN.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

It Gets Worse!

Short blog this morning. Am fed up with the weather, a month's rain fell in this region in just 24 hours (yesterday). High winds and this brought down some heavy branches from the trees in our road, one tree outside our house, the other from the tree opposite. Fortunately the wind was blowing away from our house otherwise it could have crashed through our window.
Add to that have just seen numerous apples on the grass, a lot more than the usual 'June drop', so this means fewer (if any) apples left on the tree to harvest this autumn. Not sure yet what has happened to the pears or the redcurrants. Suffice to say I am not in a good mood today.

Despite the weather, part of the 'velocity weekend' is supposed to be carrying on, no sailing today but the kayaks are supposed to be out. With this wind I doubt it. Even so have still had to bake 2 dozen scones this morning - at least they turned out well, and these together with the gingerbread and a pot of 'mixed summer fruit' jam B is taking to the club this morning. Whether they will require more food tomorrow remains to be seen. The weather is supposed to improve, but will have to wait until B returns later this afternoon, then bake a cake (if needed) this evening, and more scones early tomorrow morning. Not even sure if I have time for Gill's Sunday call.

The kitchen looks as though a bomb has hit it (flour everywhere including down my jumper and skirt (forgot to put on my apron), will have to wash these with other laundry today and put the central heating on or it will never dry. We put the c.h. on yesterday because the house seemed so damp and cold. The temperature was 17C indoors (63F) and it's been warmer than that during the winter months. It is now the worse summer on record and it probably will continue due to the Jet Stream having 'stuck' or something.

There is one thing to be thankful for, as having now retired (as much as any housewife CAN retire) this means I don't have to go out to work and brave the elements. Up to a point can cosy up indoors and draw the curtains, put on the heating and hope the fuel bill will not blow my meagre savings away. With groceries ordered on-line no need either to go out to buy food. Life could be a lot worse.
Am so sorry for those who have chosen this week to go on holiday, and also for those people who rely on holiday makers for their income - such as mobile 'eateries'. Bad weather keeps folk indoors and therefore no sales. Goodness knows what all this rain is doing to the crops in the fields, it will either boost growth, or just ruin the lot. Let us hope the former or fresh food will be very expensive come harvest time.

At the moment I am eating for comfort, so my weight is very slowly creeping up again. Have decided while the weather is bad I am going to eat what I want (not what I should) and worry about weight later. I still have over three months before my next weigh-in, so have time to lose the recent excess.

Thanks for your comment Cheesepare. When we went to buy a mobility scooter, I saw one that was as you described, all chrome and lights with wide handlebars, very much like an expensive motor-bike and I really fancied it, but it was far too expensive. We settled for a four-wheeler quite solid scooter and this really is very comfortable and stable. Not sure if it is too large to go into supermarkets, the only way is turn up and ask. Morrison's own scooter (for customers use), is also large but does have a big basket on the front. Mine has only a tiny basket at least this would prevent me purchasing too much. And then I'd have to scoot all the way home with it, probably eating half of it before I got back.

A good idea to use peanut butter instead of tahini C.P. The tahini I have is very difficult to spoon from the jar, it seems to have settled at the base in a hard layer with liquid (oil?) at the top. Not sure if it would be possible (safe) to warm it to see if it mixes together again. Anyone know?

Peeled root ginger keeps well if put into a jar and covered with sherry, a bit can be taken out for grating, then the rest replaced. Kept in the fridge it will keep for several weeks this way. I keep my root ginger wrapped in the freezer, then cut of what is needed, and putting the rest back to keep frozen. Then it lasts for just about ever.

Good for you Eileen braving the elements to see the Olympic Torch carried along Morecambe parade. Needless to say I stayed indoors and saw it on the local TV news. Was surprised the flame stayed lit with all that rain.
Do hope you have managed to secure your greenhouse, this wind seems to have toppled over many heavy garden pots, so you are fortunate you didn't get lose your green house altogether.
Have not put the cover back onto our frame this year as although the tomatoes grew lots of foliage when in the greenhouse last year we had very few fruits and these had little flavour. At the moment have quite gone off gardening. In fact almost gone off cooking. All due to the weather. I hate wind, I hate rain, and am beginning to dislike Morecambe because of this. The last few days have felt very homesick for Yorkshire (and that isn't even my 'real' home, although lived there 40 years my earlier life was spent in Leicestershire, previous to that in Warwickshire, the county of my birth). Lancashire is a beautiful county, far less rugged than Yorkshire, but it's all this rain!!!

I'm going to have to sign off, go and get a cup of coffee, do the crossword, and then tackle the kitchen. B has left for the sailing club, will almost certainly eat there (sandwiches, cake and scones), but will be preparing a large pot of vegetable soup (cooked in chicken stock), for my lunch/supper, and enough there for him if he returns cold and also fed up.

Would you believe I can see blue sky appearing, so it looks as though the rain clouds are fast blowing away, once the sun comes out I MAY feel a little less grumpy. Can[t wait to get through this day and see what tomorrow brings. Weather forecast is better but in this country we can never be sure. Will it continue to rain for Wimbledon? Let us hope not.

Hope to be back in a better mood tomorrow. See you then.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Who Want's To Know?

Had to miss the first half of 'Men Who Make Us Fat' last night due to footie. Saw enough to prove that anyone in the food manufacturing business doesn't seem to care a hoot about any health problems due to eating their products and - through TV ads etc - kept on encouraging youngsters to eat their 'snacks' until someone in the government put a stop to this advertising.
It had also been proved that children today are just as energetic as they were in 'my day' and the cause for the current obesity problem is the constant eating of snacks between meals which - for some reason (and probably due to the corn syrup and sugars they contain putting a block on the appetite centre of the brain), did not mean they eat less at their 'proper' meals. Children are just eating too much of the wrong things.

Before I forget, a reminder that 'Turn Back In Time' (a five-part series filmed in Morecambe) is due to start next Tuesday, BBC 1 9.00pm. It will cover five eras from 1900 to (I presume) almost the present day, and as this programme is just up my street (no pun intended), am really looking forward to it. Quite a bit of Morecambe will be shown, it's not all set indoors, so even though it will be set in times past, am sure not a lot of it will have changed and you will get an idea of where we live.

The weather really has changed for the worse. Pouring with rain when I woke, rain dripping from all the gutters (they are probably blocked but is that upstairs problem, doubt they are bothered?). It is so miserable and damp/cold, so am expecting more aches and pains because of it. Feel so much better when the heating is on as this does dry out the atmosphere, but honestly, it is far too costly to keep the heating on during the summer, it is too expensive already for the cooler months. Or does it really matter? Better to be warm and comfortable, and put the heating on for just a few hours when necessary, and scrimp and save in other ways to pay for it, than continually 'suffering'.

Do hope the rain will have eased off by the time you reach York Campfire, for there is nothing worse than having a 'damp camp'. Hope that meeting up with friends will make the trip worthwhile - you will all be in the same boat anyway (and if there is a flood, probably WILL end up in a boat!).

Good to hear from you again Margie and pleased you - at least - have had some hot weather (almost too hot by the sound of it). We were lucky enough to see the Van Gogh Exhibition when we once visited Amsterdam, they have an art museum there just for his works.
Thanks also for letting us know that a recipe for 'faggots' is on Frugal Queen's blogsite.

As you say, there are a lot of people who just don't seem to understand about feeding their children correctly. Think a lot of problems come from the belief that if we eat the right amount of calories, then we should remain healthy (which is true but only if we eat the right SORT of calories). We can often loose weight eating more calories then if eating less if we ditch the dangerous ones (sugar, fats etc) and concentrate on proteins and veggies. The 'balanced' meal (protein, carbohydrates and vegetables) is the one to aim for, cutting out as much salt, sugar and fats as possible, and probably we are too trustful when it comes to buying the 'ready-mades'. We expect to be wholesome food, and a lot of the time it just doesn't fit the bill.

If there are more calories in a packet of crisps than an apple then can understand why people might give these to the children rather than (say) fruit which would probably cost far more. A calorie is a calorie, so buy/eat the cheapest. Seems to make sense, but we have to learn why it doesn't.

It does seem that parents either have got brain-washed into buying certain foods, and probably through all the TV and other adverts, maybe their parents did the same and they have never even eaten anything home-cooked. There are very few new recipes, and most of those published today are just variations of the same dishes, each slightly different so no wonder cooking has become confusing and not worth the hassle. They also use slightly different ingredients (many of which we never keep in our larder), and also can take a long time to prepare. If I hadn't worked out my own recipes and short-cuts, even I think I wouldn't be bothered to learn to cook from scratch the way the cookery world is leading us at the moment.

There are still people who are willing to listen and learn, but plenty who are not the slightest bit interested, and even if they had a programme to watch, or an article in a newspaper they probably would just switch to another channel or turn the page without reading. Food is bought more for 'eating by habit' and without any real enjoyment because the only recognised flavours these days are usually the sweet, salty, and spiciness. These are all 'additives' that have no real food value at all. So just eat what is enjoyed without any need to make any of it. In a way this brings us back to the 'Men who make us Fat' programme. They understand what makes many of us tick. And line their deep, deep pockets with the profits.

One of the best ways to get children eating properly is to have them learn about food, teach them to cook and grow their own produce from the earliest age possible, and when mother's can't do this, then the best place is in school. So why don't schools do more? Some now are teaching their children how to grow veggies in a school plot, but very few have cookery classes, and my feeling this is far more important than learning certain other subjects they will probably never need to use in later life.
Myself did not go to a school that taught domestic subjects (other than sewing - useful as this was in war-time), so it was not until much older that I was allowed to cook at home due to shortage of food (the time of rationing). Once I smashed an egg and we had to carefully scrape it off the surfaces so it could be used in cooking - far too luxurious an ingredient to waste (and we kept chickens at the time!!).

Other than basic 'sums', including mental arithmetic - these having been extremely useful throughout my life as I can easily work out the cost of foods/recipes in my head - and on paper -have never since needed to use the algebra and geometry I was taught. Neither have I ever needed to know the dates of all the battles fought. Any interest in history has been at the 'domestic level', and this I have learned about myself through reading books in later life. Geography useful only in that I know where the continents are and some of the major countries. I probably knew more but as they kept changing the names, don't really care what they are or where they are any more. I can always look them up in the atlas if it matters.

Science and physics I only just touched on, my one memory being the way litmus paper changes to blue or red depending upon whether it is dipped into acids or alkalines (and at the time I gave the wrong answer!). There is a certain amount of 'science' in cookery, and again am trying to learn as much as I can through books, also about the various minerals and chemicals in certain herbage as these can be good (or bad) for our health. That I do find useful.

English literature I did not enjoy because most of the time we read Shakespeare. English language I could never get my head round (as you will probably have discovered when you read my blog). Just about know what a noun, verb or adjective is, but 'subjunctive' and 'past participles' and 'split infinitives' I wouldn't even understand. The times I have to try and work out the right wording....for instance "if only I had a recipe", or " if I only had a recipe", or possibly "if I had only a recipe", or might even be "only if I had a recipe..". See what I mean!

There was another comment from yet another Anonymous. But again mainly to point us in the direction of their own blogsite, so up to readers if they wish to view it. The link is there. Quite often now get these anonymous comments (for the same reason), often they have sent this via an earlier posting, so probably missed by readers, but I don't refer to them unless they give a name, as then I might be more interested.

More experimental cookery to be done today. The 'test cake' (actually a tea loaf) turned out well, but slightly shallower than hoped for. Realised (after checking tin sizes in Lakeland catalogue) that my 2 lb loaf tins are larger than the standard ones - probably the reason why recent loaves of bread made from a mix are not as deep as they should be. Will now use one and a half packs to make each loaf (or maybe stick to using my 1 lb tin and use the rest of the dough to make min-loaves or baps) until I purchase proper sized 2 lb loaf tins.

Am having a great deal of fun adapting old recipes (and newer adaptations so regularly published today) to make them the easiest ever to make. Children will enjoy making them. These will be on my new website, the aim being that most of the recipes will be so easy to remember we should never then need to have to look them up when making in the future. Alternatively just jot them down in a personal note-book for reference (or passing down the generations). If Mrs Beeton could fit eight or more recipes on one page, then no reason why it can't be done now. Although mine will have photos, and all taken in my own kitchen the first time of making - just to prove it can be done without practicing first.

This site will still continue with recipes, these being slightly more 'advanced', not so much in skill but using some ingredients that novice cooks may not yet keep in their larder. As ever substitutions will be suggested so we can adapt to suit or needs.

One recipe today - this using basic ingredients that most of us have, plus some wasabi paste. Now 'wasabi' is the Japanese equivalent to our English mustard, used in much the same way (so we could use this instead) but is pale green and quite a bit hotter. As it is this 'heat' that lifts the dish, and knowing that horseradish sauce can also work in a similar way to the mustard family and also goes with fish, then we already have a choice of substitutions.
Pea shoots are part of this dish, and even if we have none, why not sprint into the larder, remove a few dried peas from your packet of marrowfat, plant them in damp soil, place on the window ledge and in a couple or so weeks you can start picking your own pea shoots. Otherwise substitute mange-tout peas or just - peas! Use small pasta shapes such as penne, fusilli, macaroni, or the smaller 'shells'. If not spring onions, finely slice or grate a shallot or small red onion. If no sesame oil, if possible use extra virgin olive oil.

This recipes makes enough for two servings, so could be eaten by one, the surplus stored in a container in the fridge to eat the next day at home or at work.
Tuna and Wasabi Pasta Salad: serves 2
5 oz (150g) pasta shapes (see above)
1 tsp sesame oil (see above)
3 tblsp mayonnaise
1 tsp wasabi paste (see above)
zest and juice of 1 lime (or half a lemon)
1 can tuna (drained), roughly flaked
half a cucumber, chopped
4 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
handful of pea shoots (see above)
Cook the pasta in salted boiling water as per packet instructions, then drain and refresh in cold water. Drain well again (some pasta shapes need a good shake to release trapped water in the folds and creases) then place into a bowl and stir in the oil
.Meanwhile, in another bowl put the mayonnaise, wasabi paste, and zest and juice of a lime and mix together, then fold in the tuna, followed by the pasta, cucumber, onions, and pea shoots. Keep chilled until ready to eat. Use within 2 days.

And that's it for today, still raining and so will go into the kitchen as this will be the warmest place (one the oven is on). Even the washing won't dry on the airer (placed in the conservatory to catch any sun that might suddenly shine on it), everywhere seems so damp today. So I'll probably be in a bad mood. If I ate something sweet that would cheer me up, but then I'd want to go on eating and if I want to lose weight then need to keep control. Who says life is easy?

Whatever the weather, keep on smiling, this alone might cheer up someone else, and that would be our good deed for the day. Not sure if there is footie tonight, but as it is Friday then B will be out at his sailing 'social' this evening so have a chance to watch what I want. Just as long as EastEnders is on (should have been yesterday but the footie had priority). This is one episode I don't want to miss. Watching repeats of anything on iPlayer does not give me as much pleasure, not sure why.

Join me tomorrow in the slim hope I'll have done something or discovered something worth reading about. I'll have a good shot at it anyway. See you then.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Joys of Old Age

There is quite a lot to be said for growing old. For one thing we have gained enough experience (or should have) to see us through hard times, and we take a certain amount of satisfaction knowing that 'in our day' things were much better than they are today. Give or take a war. Everything then seemed so much better. People had good manners, older folk were respected, all fresh food was pretty well 'organic', and 'free-range'. True, we worked longer hours and a five and a half day week, but the pace seemed slower, and also our free time was much more appreciated.
I could go on (and on and on), but suffice to say life has never been quite so good since the more recent technological 'progress', and just glad I was there at the best of times.

On the other side of the coin, am now realising that growing old is not always 'comfortable'. This past week have been plagued with yet more aches and pains (although the other ones are disappearing). Now am getting pains in my leg joints and shoulder. Legs not so bad during the day, but worse in bed when it seem almost like constant cramp but muscular. B says it is arthritis (his mother had it), so am I now doomed to suffer constantly from that? Let us hope not. Trouble is am now finding it difficult to fall asleep when my legs are aching. One shoulder hurts when typing over the comp (yes, I suppose I should sit up straighter but then my back aches!!). Can hear my joints 'creak' when I move, especially when rising from a chair. Suffice to say that this is not one of my good days, made worse I suppose because the weather has changed back to wet, windy and much cooler.
At least yesterday managed to get another hour (or two) sitting in the sun, the clouds rolled away by lunchtime and as the wind had dropped, it seemed far hotter than the previous days.

Was a good girl yesterday as regards my eating. Kept away from the carbos and ate nothing but protein and veg, this giving a further 2lb loss (4 lbs so far), so if I can keep this up should soon seen the scales dropping further. The good thing about protein packed foods is that they are very satisfying. I ate a protein breakfast and good lunch, had a taste of B's supper when making the spag bol meat sauce and at my own supper time couldn't face eating anything else - so didn't. Have already had a 'protein breakfast' today before starting this blog, and doubt I will want lunch. B can have a 'cold meat platter' for his supper - with salad, and this is probably what I will also have (but eating less of course - B eats his meal served on a meat platter as the ordinary dinner plate is far too small for the amount he wishes).

Today HAS to be taken up with making a couple of tray-bakes for the sailing club weekend. Also want to try another recipe for a cake made with no fat. If it works it will go on my new website which I hope will shortly be able to be viewed, I've just been too busy doing 'other things' to concentrate on writing up the details. Problem is - writing my blog tends to give me 'writer's block' for anything else, so may have to take a day or two off shortly to concentrate on the new site to get it completed.

Thanks for comments from Catsngrams, Campfire and madmittens. No queries to answer but would like to pick up on the one about normally not including fruit in a main course. Salads today quite often include the sharper berries such as cranberries, blueberries and the pomegranate seeds. Quite often fruit IS included but we don't recognise it as such - apple in Waldorf Salad for instance. Date and/or apricots in a Moroccan tagine; raisins and sultanas, mangoes and lychees in Indian and Oriental curries.

Perhaps it is more the sweetness of fruit we recognise as not being 'quite right' with a salad or savoury dish, for most 'salad veg' ARE actually the fruit of a plants (fruit containing the seeds), such as tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, courgettes. Suppose peas and beans are a type of 'fruit' as these are also 'seeds'.

Myself make a real hotch-potch of a (vegetarian) salad, purely to add as much texture and flavour as I can. Starting with shredded iceberg lettuce, then add diced cucumber, diced or sliced bell peppers (pref. red and yellow), some finely sliced red onion, watercress, tiny halved tomatoes, and then drizzle over salad dressing and throw in some grated cheese. When tossed together the cheese sticks to the dressing which itself sticks to everything, so each mouthful is bursting with flavour. Just that alone makes a memorable salad.

When I have radishes and cooked beetroot, some of these can be sliced and added to a salad, and maybe some crunchy uncooked mange-tout, sugar snap peas, or tiny courgettes. Occasionally add cooked beans or chickpeas, and quite often add halved hard-boiled eggs. I love the flavour of a sliced banana in a salad, or - if I have one - slivers of avocado. Maybe a few grapes will be included, or a few chunks of pineapple, or even a few redcurrants, a sliced strawberry, chunks of apple, segments of orange. Also some cashews, almonds or walnuts. Not EVERYTHING all at the same time, but certainly as many varieties as I can and that will not clash with each each other. In a way suppose this is like eating the 'mains' and 'dessert' at the same time.

When deciding what goes with what in a salad, think what a 'main' ingredient might go with when served in a different way. For instance chicken and banana go well together, as do prawns and avocado. Ham, sausages (or anything 'porky') needs apple to balance the flavour. Lamb, mint and redcurrants are a marriage made in heaven. Beef and beetroot are also good friends. Smoked mackerel and gooseberries.... So if we start experimenting we can make endless varieties of salads to enjoy.

Sometimes, instead of using a salad dressing, will use a fruit flavoured yogurt in place of mayo. The lemon, mango, or coconut yogs go very well with salad. Half mayonnaise and half Greek yogurt blended together (with a little added milk or water if necessary) make a lighter and less 'cloying' dressing than mayo on its own.

Mangoes are not the cheapest fruit, but sometimes are 'on offer', and so am including a recipe for a salad using this fruit. The suggestion is to serve this with hot or cold roast chicken, possibly one with an Oriental flavour. The easiest way to achieve this flavour is to release the skin from the top of two chicken breasts (but still leave the skin attached), and then push in a paste made by blitzing together some ginger, lime and chilli paste, pat down to spread this mixture over the breast, replace the skin, then roast in the oven (200C) for 20 or so minutes until crisp and cooked through. Slice and serve with the salad below
Mango and Apple Salad: serves 4
2 red-skinned apples, cut into matchsticks
1 mango, peeled, flesh cut into matchsticks
handful fresh mint leaves, torn into small shreds
5 spring onions
small bunch coriander leaves
1 tsp caster sugar
dash fish sauce (opt)
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
juice of 1 lime
Put the apple, mango, mint, spring onions and the coriander into a bowl. Add the fish sauce, sugar, ginger, and lime juice. Toss together then cover and place in the fridge until ready to serve.
If serving with hot roast 'oriental' chicken breast (see above) spoon some of the chicken juices from the pan and use this as a warm dressing for the salad, then serve immediately with the hot chicken. If you wish the meal to be more substantial serve with boiled or steamed rice.

One more salad recipe before I finish for today. This one makes a great buffet dish, but also works well on its own as a light lunch or supper dish. To save time use canned lentils. The olives can be green or black (or both). Little Gem lettuce, being a baby cos is slightly more bitter than iceberg (can be used instead), as this goes well with the other ingredients.
The roasted red peppers are also 'from a jar', but can be oven roasted, griddled or just held over a gas flame to blacken (then remove) the skins. Raspberry vinegar makes a good substitute for the balsamic. Another crumbly white cheese (such as Wensleydale, Goat's cheese, or Paneer) can be used instead of Feta. Up to you know how to throw this meal together.
Lentil and Pepper Salad: serves 4
1 x 400 cans green lentils, drained and rinsed
6 - 8 roasted red peppers, chopped
1 bunch radishes, trimmed and sliced
cupful of black or green (or both) olives, pitted
3 tblsp balsamic vinegar (see above)
6 tblsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 Little Gem lettuces
2 x 7oz packs Feta cheese (see above)
Put everything but the lettuce and cheese into a bowl and mix well together so everything is coated in the dressing (oil and vinegar). Trim the root end from the lettuce and separate the leaves, scattering these over a large platter. Spoon over the lentil salad, then crumble the cheese evenly over the top.

Really must get on as those cakes won't make themselves. If I can find time to make the scone mix, then that will be ready for me to just add the liquid when ready to make 'n bake. This will save much time early on both Saturday and Sunday mornings as the scones have to be cooked and ready to deliver by 8.30am both days. Certainly preparing as much in advance does lighten the load considerably. I now do this as often as I can.

The big batch of spag.bol meat sauce was made yesterday, and even with B's massive portion and a small helping for myself, was still able to freeze 3 portions to heat up another day. Have now a good assortment of 'ready-prepared-but-ALWAYS-home-made' meals in the freezer, and this too helps a lot when I'm not in a mood to cook.

Whatever the weather we have no choice but to put up with it. Let's hope we can find as much pleasure indoors (even in a tent or caravan), as we might otherwise have outdoors. Even the '0ld-fashioned' board games, card games, jigsaws can become quite addictive (especially for younger folk who probably have never had a try). If I can find time will get out the sewing machine (not used since we moved) and try and take in some seams so that I don't need to buy myself new clothes. Nothing wrong with new clothes, but what would I do with all the old ones? Too ancient for a charity shop, and as I nearly always wear dark colours, not really right for turning into rag rugs or cushions. Throw them away? Don't know what you mean.

Already looking forward to meeting up with you again tomorrow. So hope you feel the same. TTFN.