Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Spring has Sprung!

It's been a beautiful day today.  Washing dried almost in minutes after hanging on the line, and it always smells so much fresher when dried outdoors, rather than on in indoor airer.

When we drove out this afternoon (en route to the Spiritualist Church), the houses that had front gardens were full of flowering trees, huge magnolias, ornamental cherries, and others whose name I cannot remember.  Our small pear tree (planted 3 - 4 years ago) is loaded with blossom.  Let us hope we don't get any severe frosts.  There was supposed to be some last night, but no sign of it in our garden that is sheltered by trees, shrubs and high fences, also neighbouring houses are fairly close, the back gardens being quite small.

There were not so many people at the discussion group this afternoon, and have to say quite a lot of the time I was speaking about my 'psychic experiences' over my life-time.  They wish me to develop these and they do have development meetings, but to attend these I'd have to join the church.  This is not something I had planned on doing, and really would not wish to (preferring to feel a free spirit if you like), but can continue attending the discussion meeting and the Saturday ones where there is a medium who passes on messages etc.   So will just have to go with the flow for the moment and then see what happens (if anything), and take it from there.

This evening watched the first episode of The Allotment series, and feel a bit confused.  It seems that the contestants will be competing against each other, growing fruits and vegetables, and when they are ready to harvest, then these are compared.   At the end of the first episode, it had been several months before the necessary crops were ready to pick, and not all in the same month.  But two competitors were voted off because what they had done wasn't up to the quality of the rest.

Well, if they all started off by growing the same things, some cropping early, some cropping later, it could be that the later crops already being grown by the losers would have done very well indeed, so it doesn't seem a very fair judgment.  Even so, if you like gardening and exhibiting, it was an interesting programme.  From the cooks viewpoint I'd rather eat misshapen produce that has excellent flavour than a plateful that look exactly the same with hardly any taste at all.  For isn't that what vegetables are all about?  To eat, not admire.

Thanks Mandy for your comment, yes of course I do remember you.  Please don't feel sad about your granddad, he would almost certainly 'visit' you from time to time, probably when you dream.  Problem is many people don't remember their dreams.  On those mornings when you wake up and feel happy for no particular reason, feel assured that contact has been made with the person you wished.
This last Saturday a 'message' from my Mother was sent to me. Something was said that was so unusual that I'd be the only one there to know about it, so really did believe there was some sort of connection.  But my mother died in 1981 and this was the first time she had 'approached' me, although had appeared in dreams with my father now and again, but nothing that made me think she was contacting me directly.

A welcome to LesleyLynn.  Have vague memories of that 'Pashka' recipe, and did make this Easter dessert for several years, but not now for a long time.  It was very good.

Good gracious Margie, the weather in Canada turned cold again.  Suppose in a way it is a bit like that over here.  We were supposed to have good weather over the Easter holiday but now it seems that part of the country (further south) will have rain.  It is very warm when in the sunshine, but quite cold in the shade, so although it feels (and looks) as though it could almost be summer, we still have a long way to go. 

Your idea of prepping veggies in advance can be a good idea, but the problem with this is that sometimes they then start to lose vitamins quite rapidly, especially once peeled.  A quick blanch in boiling water, then drained and refreshed under a cold tap, and drained again before putting into bags and kept chilled could prevent vitamin loss.   It goes without saying that the very best way to eat vegetables is within minutes of being harvested, but at least nature does allow some to have a longer 'shelf' life (root veggies, potatoes, onions, squashes etc) so we can keep eating 'fresh' through the winter months.  It is the leafy veg that lose vitamins rapidly. 
When lettuces are picked, they stay 'fresh' longer if the root end (with roots still intact) is stood in water, so it keeps on growing for a while.  Same with cabbage, and Brussels sprouts (pick the whole stem and plunge the end into water).
Not of course that I tend to do any of this.  I just buy and eat the veggies that need eating first, and even these could be several days older than they should be.

Many thanks to Eileen for her good wishes (and she did visit me later this afternoon so an added bonus).  Her books mentioned (Dairy book and Bero) are some of the most widely used.  It sounds as though the Bero book is still available.  Is it the same as I remember, about 9" long and 4" wide? Brown in colour, with sepia coloured printing and illustrations?

As Eileen mentioned, tomorrow is my birthday (will be 81!!!!), and B and I will be going to our daughter's for a birthday meal.  It could be that I'll be tired when we get home, so I may miss writing my blog Wednesday night (for Thursday), but will blog on Thursday night to publish ready for Friday.  May also take much of the Easter weekend off (blogging), but again this depends on what we will be doing.   My suggestion is 'just watch this space' as sooner rather than later I plan to return. 

Had a delivery from Tesco this morning - a week earlier than normal but wanted to have enough in for Easter (my excuse).  I ordered the free-range medium eggs for £1, and when the groceries arrived there was one substitution.  The 'Tesco free-range medium eggs' not available.  The substitution was g 'Tesco Lancashire free-range eggs' for £1.  Checked the price of the latter on the Tesco web-site and they were £1 anyway, and under the Tesco label, so what's the difference?

It is now exactly midnight as I write (happy birthday me), so I'm planning to go to bed soon, so just one recipe to end with.  Even though a goodly amount of watercress is used, it doesn't have to be so much and myself would use the bits of watercress that are often left over from a bunch or bag (these soon wilt so need using up).  The semi-soft cheese used could be Brie, Boursin, soft goat's cheese, or the Philly-type cream cheese (plain or flavoured with herbs/chives).
Instead of using risotto rice (Arborio), instead make this using pearl barley (cooks in less time if soaked in cold water for a few hours before cooking).

Watercress and Cream Cheese Risotto: serves 4
2.5 pints (1.5 ltrs) hot vegetable stock
knob butter
1 tblsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
12 oz (350g) Arborio rice
1 bunch watercress, chopped (see above)
4 oz (100g) semi-soft or cream cheese
Have the stock simmering in a pan on the hob.  Take a wide saucepan or deep frying pan and melt the butter with the oil over medium heat, then fry the onion for 3 minutes.  Stir in the rice until all the grains are coated and shiny.  Pour in a ladle of the stock and simmer until completely absorbed, then continue adding stock, a ladle at a time, continuing to stir until the rice is tender (takes about 25 minutes). Add the watercress and cheese.  Remove from heat, and if you wish add another knob of butter.  Give a final stir, then serve.

That's it until my next blog (may be tomorrow, maybe the day after). Enjoy this spring weather while we have it,  and we'll meet again soon.  TTFN. xx