Sunday, July 27, 2014

Having a Laugh!

There is nothing like having a good laugh to make us feel better, and this morning was having a good giggle as I listened to a Radio 4 game show this morning (is it called Having a Laugh?).  Jack Dee is now the host, and it is that 'oldie' that has 'Mornington Crescent' in it.  Think is the team of comedians that have the humour I like, it is a long running show (years not minutes, and must listen to it more often, this mornings have put me in a good mood for the rest of the day.

It has turned much cooler now thank goodness, and when I decided to go and sit on the bench and have a cup of coffee, discovered it was spotting with rain when I stepped from the back door.  But this was the end of a shower, not the start, so I still went out and sat down, part of the bench was fairly dry (who cares anyway).  Warm (but not mega-hot) when the sun was out, and a cool breeze when covered by clouds, but sunny between times.  I'll go and have another sit later if it stays dry.

Beloved is out driving the safety boat this morning, as good sailing weather and the tide is right, so thought I'd write my blog now so that I can catch the sun when it does reappear.  Nothing much else to do - I've tidied the kitchen, loaded the machine and washed the laundry (have to put this on airers as our deeds forbid any washing to be hung out to dry on Sundays. 

Not before time I decided to repot the avocado 'tree' that I grew from a stone, must be at least two - if not three - years old by now.  It was in a small pot that I'd stood in a larger one (to save it topping over as it is nearly 2ft tall), and was forever drying out.  When I lifted the small pot from the large saw the roots had grown through the bottom of the small pot and up to surround the space between the pots.  Had to cut the inner plastic plant pot so that I could release the plant, and in the end decided to cut away the mass of roots as there were lots more wrapped around inside.  In fact, all roots and hardly any soil, so I carefully untangled many of the roots and then stood the plant in a much larger pot on a bed of fairly loose soil, tucking more soil around the sides, then pressing it in firmly.  Gave it a good watering with some plant food, and am hoping it will continue to thrive.   Not that it is an attractive plant, maybe I should have pinched the top out last year so that it would throw out side shoots.  Suppose I could try that now.  It's not the end of the world if it dies on me, I only did it to prove that the stone would grow (I'd gown them before anyway).

The lemon tree that I grew from a pip has just about died on me, and my fault for I forgot to water it last week (needed watering nearly every day), and most of the leaves have now dropped off.  Again not an attractive plant although I did prune the top and it did throw out side shoots, but it has massive thorns, and more than once I've pricked myself badly when moving the pot.  I'll put it outdoors and it may start to shoot again.   In any case, I have to make sure I have room now in the conservatory to overwinter the geraniums (aka pelargoniums) that have been blooming profusely in the garden.  Gill brought me a dozen new ones, and the ones overwintered (that I should have cut back but didn't) are also flowering, so as they begin flowering early indoors, they will make a good show when put into the containers next year (along with more lobelia, the 'hero' of the display at the moment, lots and lots of lovely blue 'froth' around most of the containers, other plants in the centre).

When I sat in the garden yesterday I thought it looked as good as any park, almost worth an 'open garden' for people to wander in and enjoy.  Still work to be done, and want to plant a climbing rose to spread across the tall fence at the back of then now almost completed patio (this now has wide, shallow steps leading from the patio, up close to the fence and will work round the big apple tree - B is planning to build a seat round that - leading onto the lawn).  A side border next year will also have some flowering shrubs and tubs - being north facing will need to choose the right plants for this.

Almost can't wait until the autumn when I can start potting up spring bulbs.  Unfortunately this should be done before the summer bedding plants need removing, so will buy new pots so that at least the daffs can go in, and then the tulips (that can be planted up to the end of the year) can use this years bedding containers.   Next year I want the garden to be full of flowers to enjoy (just in case it is my last year - I'm at that age when life no longer seems endless).

Just one comment, this from Cheesepare who I was thinking about yesterday because I noticed the name come up when I was checking out one of my earliest blogs (was that in 2006/7?).  The reader who has stayed with me since the start so was hoping I'd not lost.

In reply, my way of boiling eggs (by this I mean HARD boiled) is to put them in cold water, bring to the simmer (not a rolling boil, more like a 'burp', and let them cook for just 6 minutes, or 7 if large but no longer.  Then I tip them into the sink (using a small 'strainer' sink at the side of a larger one) and run cold water over them until cool enough to handle (but still very warm).  Then I remove and tap each shell on the side of a metal basin, crushing the shells slightly as well (but gently so as not to break the whites).  To shell I use the 'Jamie tip', pushing the tip of a teaspoon under the shell, but it must also go under the membrane, then easing this round the egg until that half slide off, then remove the base in the same way.  As each egg is done it is put in a bowl of cold water, then when all eggs are done they are put in fresh cold water and then will keep in the fridge for a few days (change the water each day).  This seems to prevent that green colour that - after a few hours - can cover the yolk where it hits the white, this happens usually when the eggs have been boiled for a longer, sometimes recommended - time of 10 minutes.  I've always found 6 minutes simmering cooks the yolks firmly with the whites not ending up too 'rubbery'.

My Beloved hardly ever bothers to go cycling now, and certainly wouldn't during the hot weather - he prefers to drive the car as it has air conditioning!  The good thing about Morecambe is that it does have a lot of cycle lanes along the main roads, and the five-mile long prom uis often used by cyclists, with no danger of any traffic (other that 'wrinklies' like me on their scooters, and pram buggies etc). Plus pedestrians, more of these at the west end than our end where there are virtually none. There is also a cycle lane that (I think) starts at the back of one of the supermarkets (could be Morrisons?) and continues for miles, from Morecambe through Lancaster and along the canal right to Glasson Dock. Again not close to traffic.  Am sure this will be marked on maps of this area.
There are canal trips to and from Barton Grange, so I suppose it might be possible to cycle to B.G, then return by narrow boat or vice versa (as long as they let you put the bike on the top of the boat).

There may be more comments sent before the day ends, and if so will reply to these in my next blog. It's not yet 3.00pm but the sun had come out again and I have the urge to go and sit in the garden.  I'm not feeling in the mood for a late-night blog, at least not today.  All I want to do is topple into bed and get a good night's sleep - and this usually about   Probably due to all the pain-killers I'm taking at the moment.  Have to limit myself to these, but they don't do much for my energy levels.

Meals again not given priority.  As I now have to avoid drinking 'fresh' fruit juice (from a carton), decided to use those I have left (orange and pineapple) to make jellies (I don't have any pineapple flavoured jelly, although used to be able to buy them, but not seen any for some time) so instead yesterday used an orange jelly, melting it first in the m.wave with juice from a can of fruit cocktail, and when dissolved, made it up to the pint with the chilled orange juice.  Crumbled up a couple of trifle sponges, mixed these with the fruit cocktail then stirred in the jelly.  Made a big bowlful that B can help himself to - naturally pouring double cream on top of each dishful.

In my fridge I have a punnet of cranberries, bought just before last Christmas in case I wanted to make cranberry sauce for the turkey.  As it happened we had our Christmas meal at our daughters, so the cranberries were never used.  Apparently they have a very long shelf life (and I do mean 'very') and it would probably make sense for me to make the sauce now and freeze it ready for December.
However, have discovered a recipe that uses dried cranberries, and see no reason why the 'fresh' (if you can call them that) could not be used instead.  Or any other fruit of a similar kind.
The addition of spirit (brandy in this instance) helps to prevent the dessert getting rock-hard (as so often happens with home-made ice-cream).  If you prefer you could use 1 tblsp of orange flavoured liqueur (Cointreau?), or a neutral flavoured spirit such as Vodka.  

This dessert has far fewer calories than regular ice-cream and is a very refreshing dessert when served in the hot weather we've been having lately (and hope to still have more).

Cranberry Yogurt Iced Dessert: serves 6
4 oz (100g) dried cranberries
5 fl oz (150ml) water
grated zest and juice of 1 orange
18 fl oz (500ml) Greek yogurt
2 oz (50g) caster sugar
5 fl oz (150ml) double cream
3 tblsp brandy
Put the cranberries with the water and orange zest and juice, into a pan, then bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for half an hour or until the cranberries are very soft.  Remove from heat and leave to cool completely.  Even better chill before completing the recipe.
Beat together the yogurt, sugar and cream until the sugar has partially dissolved, then stir in the brandy and pour the mixture into a freezer-proof container.  Freeze for 3 hours until thickend, then stir in the cranberry mixture, making sure it is well distributed.
Return to the freezer and freeze until solid, then remove to the fridge for about 20 minutes before serving.  Use within 2 months of making.

Didn't go to the church yesterday evening, felt too exhausted (due only to the heat, I hardly did any work) and took myself off to bed early for one.  Felt all the better for it.  Doing the same tonight. 
Tomorrow will be 'eating out' with friends, so may be too late to blog when we return.  Will aim to reply to any comments sent in between now and late afternoon tomorrow, so that at least I can give something to read.  Who knows, we might have a massive thunderstorm worth comment on.  Have to wait and see.  TTFN.