Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Life's Like That...

Again, many thanks for your comments.  Am just doing a quick blog today as not sure what the outcome will be when I visit the outpatients today.  Could be they want me back in hospital so have to take each day as it comes.

Goes without saying that I'm now having to learn how to cope with emergencies.  There were a couple a few weeks ago, but at that time I wasn't in the mood to even care.  The washing machine got overheated (still not working properly but I can handle it),  'upstairs' got a leak in their bathroom which then dripped down into our kitchen. That was their problem, so they sorted it.

Last Sunday, early evening,  our central heating broke down.  We have a service agreement, but waited until early Monday to phone, and luckily they had a service engineer in our area that morning, so he came and - eventually - sorted it out.  It is working now.    Was pleased that I knew where I had put the service agreement so I had all the details.  That's one notch on my bedpost to prove I am coping.

Due to my age and (now) circumstances, British Gas have put me on their priority list, so if anything goes wrong I can jump the queue.  Also, if my annual income is less than a certain amount (£1610 I think they said) they will also give me quite a large discount off my fuel bills.  Remains to be seen how much pension/benefits I get.  Knowing the benefit system it will probably be weeks before that is sorted out.  'Ernie' (bless him) sent me TWO payments last month.  Every little helps.

Regarding a comment re letting out a room to help increase my income.  We have only one bedroom, and have to say I do like my own space (B being out such a lot I am quite used to being on my own most of the day).  Maybe I can find another source of income - perhaps giving cookery lessons?  Will have to wait and see.   Possibly might start painting again.  At one time used to paint lots of pictures and was able to sell many of them. 
Pity I can't start a little 'corner shop' in my conservatory, selling home-made preserves and baked goods. Too many rules and regs, 'elf and safety etc, to stop me doing that I am sure.  But there is always something I should be able to do, even if only for my own amusement.
Perhaps I could have a 'pop-up' restaurant in our dining room.  With patio doors and a terrace outside, people could enter that way and not need to walk through the other rooms to get to it. 

But first things first.  Get the hospital visit out of the way, then the pension etc. sorted, and - fingers crossed - my health could start to improve and life will seem much brighter.    At least the weather is still lovely, wall to wall blue skies today and not really cold.

Hope to be back with you later this week, but before I go must mention an article in the newspaper that said "Feed the Family this Christmas for £2.66p each" (working on a total of £21.31p to feed eight).  We can only do that if we buy the necessary from several different supermarkets.  If we shopped only in one, the best price for the 'basket' would be £27.83p at Iceland.

However cheap this seems, we have to remember that many items probably lack quality.  The turkey may be cheap but some of the weight may be added water,  Some fruit cakes will be richer than others. It all depends on what we are prepared to put up with.  On the other hand, good news for those on a lower than average income.

Some of the products I wouldn't buy anyway, such as brandy butter (cheapest being £1.49p from Lidl and Aldi) so there is always room to reduce the total price even further.

One recipe for you today as I'm going to make it myself (love onion chutney), and perfect to give as gifts as it will keep for a year unopened, and six weeks when opened - but keep chilled.

Red Onion Chutney: makes 650g
1 lb 12 oz (800g) red onions, finely sliced
2 tblsp olive oil
4 oz (100g) soft brown sugar
4 fl oz (100ml) port
2 tblsp red wine vinegar
1 tblsp red currant jelly
pinch salt
9 oz (250g) cooked beetroot
Put the sliced onions in a pan with the oil and set over lowest heat. giving a stir as it begins to cook. Cover with a sheet of greaseproof (prevents evaporation), then cover pan with a tight fitting lid.
Let the onions cook slowly for about an hour, stirring every 15 minutes to prevent the onions from burning.
Remove lid and paper, add the sugar, raise the heat to medium, the continue to cook, stirring regularly, until the onions are browning (not burning), and all the water from the onions has evaporated.  This takes 15 - 20 mins.
Add the port and vinegar and continue to cook until the liquid has evaporated (a further 8 - 12 mins), then add the redcurrant jelly and salt.  Stir well to combine.  Slice the beetroot into matchsticks and stir these into the onion mixture.
While the chutney is still hot, spoon into warmed sterilised jars.  Cool, seal with airtight lids, and label.  Once sealed they will keep for a year if left unopened, and once opened and kept chilled, for six weeks.

That's it for today. Hope to be back with you sooner rather than later.  Enjoy the good weather while it lasts.