Friday, June 13, 2014

Old Age!

When I'm sitting down (like now) I feel young(er) again.  It is only when I struggle to stand up and then walk that I feel my age, and probably even older than that.  My knees hurt so much and am now using two sticks to walk when outdoors (one inside). 

Although I don't do much walking any more, am finding when I have to (like today when I had to visit the hospital for my annual podiatry check (we used to call it chiropody), I end up feeling exhausted when I reached home.  B took me there, I was there for a good hour, and had to take a taxi home because B was working.  That bit was fun - the taxi driver was Scottish (came from Aberdeen), and once we reached home (and I'd paid him), we sat chatting for half an hour before he drove off.

The taxi-cab firm text me as the car drove up, so I didn't check the message until I was in the taxi, and it was from the firm telling me the taxi was arriving, the type of car (as if I'd know what it was), the colour and the registration.  By then I was in the cab, but this is now always done (by that firm anyway) so ladies in particular don't get picked up by the wrong car and the wrong man.

I mentioned how mobile phones could be useful for that sort of thing, but how the young folk today seemed to always be using them, and the cab driver said he'd often had four teenage girls in the back all using their mobiles at the same time.  He told me he said to them 'has you lost the art of conversation?' and they didn't seem to know what he was talking about.  If that's the way modern life is going, then I'm very thankful I'm very, very old.

Seems I have the knack of chatting - like for real, not texting or twittering.  The same thing happened when the gas man came for the annual service, and also with the service man after he'd repaired the oven.  Yes, I love a good chat.  And so - it seems - do they.  Oh, yes, also had a nice chat to a delivery man yesterday, seems his wife is/was a chef, and he told me about all the lovely meals she makes for him, especially the different sauces she serves. 

As it seems to be men who appear to enjoy chatting, am wondering if it is the female sex who spends time using mobiles/texting/tweeting etc.  Have to say it does seem the girls/ladies who walk around with a mobile clapped to their ear.  When sitting in the waiting room at the hospital recently, there was a young lady there who spend all her time tapping messages on her mobile, still doing it when I went into the surgery, and still doing it when I came out.
Men enjoy using computers, but think more for games (or looking at naughty web-sites) rather than chatting.  Do you think I'm right?

My neighbour is away this week, so tomorrow I have a free morning and my plan is to go out with Norris and order my bedding plants.  The weather forecast is good, and today has been extremely warm.  Norma (the Hair) will be here early afternoon, but I'll be back long before then.  It will be the first time I've been out with Norris since before Christmas. I've kept meaning to, but in the end didn't bother.  B is trickle-charging the scooter battery overnight just to make sure it is topped up.  He will be out most of tomorrow again, and also next week (including Tuesday, but has said he will return to take me to the church meeting, and also to the health centre for my annual diabetic eye check-up next week (but taxi on return - for which he has paid me in advance).  Let's hope I get the same cab-driver again and we can continue our conversation.

We mentioned coincidences in the last blog, and the taxi driver is another for when we arrived home, he said he used to come to the house every week-day morning to pick up the man who lives in the apartment upstairs.  He was wondering if he still lived there as he hadn't collected him for some weeks.  I told him that 'him upstairs' had passed his driving test and now had a car.

Felt so tired this afternoon (chatting does take it out of me),  and told B that I would go to bed early for a change.  He's been a bit concerned about me coming to bed in the wee small hours as I now always seem tired, and he could be right.  Perhaps I do need more sleep.  Trouble is, if I write my blog in the morning, then that is the morning gone before I can start doing any domestic chores, and by then I don't feel like doing any.  

Perhaps the best thing to do is sit and write the blog during the day when I have an hour (or two) to spare, usually in the afternoon.   So, once this week is over and I've had Saturday off, then may start writing my blog sometime on Sunday, and then during the week when I do have a spare hour or two.
So if you normally read the blog first thing in the morning and it isn't there, try again later.  Hope this won't upset anyone's routine of blog-reading, but feel I do need to adjust my life-style to see if I can get more sleep.   With our anniversary coming up and numerous family members arriving (but not actually staying with us, but will be visiting during the day-time) I feel I need to rest now to be able to cope with all the excitement over several days.  Gill says she wants to stay with me for several days before and after the event (hardly worth coming for just one overnight stay), so that's an added responsibility.   Am sure I will cope.

Thanks for comments.  As Kate says, making lists does work, and like the idea of doing the more unpleasant tasks first, getting them over with.  She has reminded me that I MUST clean the conservatory windows, I only remember to do them when the sun shines through them and the muck can be seen on them, and that is the wrong time to do them.  Put them top of the Saturday list (Norris is top of Friday's).

Hazel reminds us how children used to have to ask permission to leave the table after eating, and in her case no pudding if left too early and then wanted to return.  Guaranteed to make a child stay in their seat.
This we used to call good manners, as was saying 'please' and 'thank you' when appropriate.  Now it is 'I want' and tantrums if they can't have it.

Another informative comment from Kathryn, such a busy lady, yet gets things done.  How wonderful to have the rest of the allotment, especially as it has such a large greenhouse (about the size of our Leeds living room - which was 22ft x 11ft).  An awkward size for a living room, but wonderful for a glass-house.  And all that soft fruit, plus apples etc.  You will need another freezer Kathryn.  Your efforts will Dolly are paying off, and you will enjoy riding on the beach.  Not sure where your nearest safe beach is, but a lot of horse-riding is done at Middleton Sands on the south side of Morecambe if you can travel that distance.  A good place to park, and also people often picnic and barbecue there.

Sorry you have had a poorly tum Ali (from Shropshire).  Yogurt seems to be the prescribed food to take after a tummy upset, and although it is milk based, the digestion seems to be able to accept it.  Otherwise dry toast (or spread with a little Marmite) seems also able to be kept down.  Once the worst is over that is. 

As the weather should be good for Father's Day (this coming Sunday?), a picnic is a good idea, but coming up with suggestions I'm finding difficult Granny G.   The obvious come to mind.  Sandwiches (these can be made the day previously, placed on a tray and covered with a damp cloth, then clingfilm they will keep very fresh).  Myself would take a pork pie, and perhaps Scotch eggs.  Leafy salads are OK, but the firmer ones are easier to cope with at a picnic, so my suggestion would be potato salad, and/or Waldorf salad, maybe a bean/pasta.tuna salad. Cold sausages, or cold roast chicken drumsticks/wings are another good 'nibble', and Coronation Chicken (served in Little Gem lettuce leaf 'cups') is another good picnic food.  Don't forget the paper napkins!
Always keep meat/fish products chilled before eating especially when the weather is hot.

For 'afters', apple pie and cheese, or strawberries and cream. And/or cheese with chilled grapes and crusty bread/biscuits.  Plenty of cold drinks (keep food/drinks cool in a cold box, previously chilled overnight with ice-blocks).  Quiche is also a good picnic food, again best made the day before serving.  Possibly some hummous with either breadsticks or vegetable 'batons' for dipping.  The hummous could be made and decanted into individual pots, so everyone has their own.

Here are some recipes that can be eaten any time, but also good to take on picnics.  If able to be frozen, details will be given.

Cheese and Chutney Scones: makes 10
8 oz (225g) self-raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
half tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
2 oz (50g) butter, cubed
4 oz (100g) cheddar cheese, grated
3 oz (75g) onion chutney (or your choice)
5 fl oz (150ml) milk
1 egg, beaten
Sift the flour with the bicarb and baking powder, then add the salt.  Rub in the butter until like fine crumbs (or whizz the lot in a food processor).  Put the mixture into a large bowl and stir in 3 oz (75g) of the cheese, and then the chutney.  Slowly add the milk, mixing together with a knife until it forms a dough.
Turn out onto a floured board and knead gently for 20 seconds, then flatten dough with hands or use a rolling pin, to a thickness of about 3 cm (just over an inch).  Then cut into rounds.  Roll the off-cuts together and re-cut until all used up.
Put the scones onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, brushing the tops with a little egg yolk.  Scatter the remaining cheese on top and bake at 220C, gas 7 for 12 - 14 minutes until golden.  Best eaten warm, otherwise on the day they are made.  Lovely spread with butter and a little more chutney.
Note: once baked and cooled, the scones can be frozen, then wrapped in foil or stacked in airtight containers before freezing.  Defrost by first removing foil, place on a wire rack and cover with a clean tea-towel and leave for about 90 minutes to fully thaw.  If you wish them warm, pop them back into a low oven for a few minutes, or a minute (or less) in a microwave oven.

Although it's easy enough to buy a pork pie, sooner or later we should have a go at making something similar ourselves.  There are various traditional recipes that go by the name of 'Fidget Pie' and the recipe below is similar.  As it freezes well after baking, worth making ready to take whenever the weather is suitable for a picnic.  Myself tend to slice the pie into wedges, then interleave these with strips of parchment before freezing so that it is easy to remove just the number of servings needed if the picnic (or meal) is just for one (or two). 
I've made this with both puff and short-crust pastry, and both work well.   If you have sausages in your fridge/freezer, you can remove the skins and use the filling, otherwise buy/use sausagemeat.
When I don't have ham, I use cooked chicken (scraps taken from the carcase).  Many times I just put the ingredients (not the pastry or egg) into a food processor and give a quick whizz to bind them together, the filling should have texture, not turn into a puree.
If you haven't the recommended tin, line the one you have with foil, this then makes it easy to lift out the baked pie.  I sometimes make my pork pies in lined loaf tins.

Picnic Pie: serves 6
1 x 500g block puff pastry
6 oz (176g) sausage meat (see above)
1 apple, peeled, cored, grated
1 onion, grated
1 tsp thyme leaves, or pinch dried sage
8 thick slices cooked ham (see above)
2 tblsp Dijon mustard
1 egg, beaten
Grease a 20cm/8" spring-form tin (or loose-bottomed deep tart tin.  Cut one third off the pastry then set this aside, rolling out the remaining two-thirds into a large circle, big enough to line the tin with some surplus hanging over the edge.  Roll out the remaining piece of pastry to a 20cm/8" circle, this to be used as the lid.
Mix the sausage meat with the apple, onion, and thyme.  Lay a third of the ham over the base of the pie tin, spreading this with a third of the mustard before spooning in a third of the sausage meat.  Press down firmly, then repeat with two more layers, finishing with the sausage meat, always pressing down firmly.  Level off the top then cover with the pastry lid.  Brush this with egg, then fold the excess pastry back over the lid, pressing it gently together to seal. Brush again with egg, then make a hole in the centre.  Bake at 190C, gas 5 for 50 minutes, or until a skewer pushed through the centre hole comes out very hot.
Cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then release the sides of the tin and leaving the pie still on the metal base, allow it to cool completely.   Cut into wedges to serve with pickles and salad.
To freeze: remove from the base and wrap tightly in foil, then wrap in clingfilm and freeze.

Not sure what programme it was today that I saw/heard a mention of Anzac biscuits.  These allegedly were given to the Australian and New Zealand soldiers as part of their 'iron rations'.  Don't think a recipe was given, so here it is.  Worthy cookies to take to a picnic.

Anzac Biscuits: makes 20
3 oz (75g) porridge oats
3 oz (75g) desiccated coconut
4 oz (100g) plain flour
4 oz (100g) caster sugar
4 oz (100g) butter
1 tblsp golden syrup
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tblsp boiling water
Mix together the oats, coconut, flour, and sugar.  Put the butter in a pan over a low heat until melted, then stir in the syrup. Mix the bicarb with the boiling water, then stir this into the butter/syrup.
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the butter/syrup mixture, stirring gently until combined.
Put dessertspoons of the mixture onto greased baking sheets, about 1" (2.5cm) apart to allow room for spreading, then bake - in batches - at 180C, gas 4 for 8 - 10 minutes, until golden.  Leave to cool on the tin for a few minutes before removing to a cake airer to cool completely.

Well, it's now well into Friday, so had better take to my bed or it will be time to get up before I know it.  Know what B means about me having late nights, and at my age better to go to bed earlier and get more sleep.  So after this week will give it a try. 

Hope all readers (in whatever country) are having good weather, and if so - make the most of it.  We never know what will happen next, especially in the UK when good weather lasts only a very short time before it is back to the drizzle, the chill, and the winds. But when the sun shines there is no better place to be.  TTFN.