Sunday, 22 October 2017

The Cookie Cutters

I have over the course of quite a few years managed to accumulate a whole host of decorating items for cakes and cookies alike with different icing sets and equipment, different baking trays, cookie cutters, cookie sheets all of which needs to be kept together really but in effect is dotted around the house. So whenever I want to use them I have to do a bit of digging around.  Most of them are in a crate which is down at the unit at the moment but I do have quite a few downstairs (I think).  I really am going to have to do a locate and search prior to Christmas as some of the bits I want to use.

Today however these two managed to fall into my basket (oh dear how did that happen)!

I was not really looking for making cookies but I thought that these cutters would be very useful for making some clay decorations which in turn can be painted and then glossed up.  But then I thought that they would indeed look fantastic made into cookies. So ideas again, as usual.  Plenty of them, and plenty of playing to be had. and of course you can draw round them  for the shapes and then cut them out in card and paper make your own present labels and attach with some ribbon or thread and decorate up, or use salt dough and make your own Christmas decorations or....  Cookie cutters in this household are not just used for cookies.

I am in due course going to make up several batches of cookie mix and store it in the freezer so that I have something to make up quick and use for unexpected guests and then cook them straight away.

I also bought two fluted squared quiche tins which will also come in handy for either savoury or sweet.  I have two long narrow ones and an A4 sized fluted pan but these are in-between.

And a metal sifter/sieve which fits on top of your bowl.  I came across this by chance. I have been searching for one for years.  When I was at school we had wooden ones with a fine mesh that we used to use, so am very chuffed with this one thank you very much.

So a nice little haul.  I shall check in again regularly with TK Maxx up until Christmas for things for the house but also for Christmas pressies.  You never quite know what you are going to find in there so well worth a recce.  I have in the past found quite a lot of distinctive glassware in there a lot of glass cloches of different sizes for popping over cakes etc.  However they also have interesting pieces of Christmas tableware either plain or decorated at much better prices.  I always keep my eyes peeled for interesting bits and bobs to add to the collection.

Catch you soon.



Saturday, 21 October 2017

A little Housekeeping goes a long way

Whilst storm Brian is making a nuisance of itself outside (the wind has been getting gutsier and gutsier as the day has progressed) and is increasing in howling level. The temperature outside has really dropped and I have just put the heating on for a short while just to warm things up a little.  However after my trip to the Hairdressers this morning I have been out to the Co-Op and bought some items for use during the week.

I have come back with two packs of bacon, two packs of chipolata sausages, two packs of chicken thighs, a block of cheese, two packs of stewing meat, a pack of mince, a loaf of bread, 

The bacon was £4 for two packs - there is a lot you can do with that, make a Quiche, make an egg and bacon flan, add to Brussel Sprouts, cooked breakfast, bacon sarnie.

The chipolata sausages were £5 for two packs.  Will be used in pigs in blankets, toad in the hole, sausage sarnies, with roast chicken and roast pork, tomatoes and sausages grilled and then served on thick slices of toast.

The chicken thighs were £4 for two packs.  These will go towards soup, Home made Chicken pie, Hawaian Chicken (using frozen peppers or fresh ones, and tinned pineapple) or home made curry.

The stewing meat was £7 for two packs but this will make a big stew using both packets made on the cooker and then transferred to the slow cooker to finish cooking - I normally get at least three meals out of this for both of us and if there is any left over this is frozen, but plenty of veggies go in as well so it is a substantial meal in itself.  Sometimes it is served with mashed potato, at other times just with thick slices of bread to mop up the juices.

Alternatively it can be made into a large family sized beef pie or mini pies. I have a couple of electric pie makers (one for bulk cooking x 4 pies and the other a 2 portion one) and so I have the option of making individual pies from one main ingredient or using up bits and bobs like chicken veggies and cranberry or redcurrant pies.  There is a lot that you can do with one of these gadgets and use up the bits left over.  There are tasty ways of using up the leftovers.  You can of course also make individual fruit pies whether using fresh ingredients or buying tinned pie fillings some of which are quite nice.

I am also a big advocate of fresh veg where I can but equally I absolutely love the frozen pea. 

I have also been to the veg shop today mainly to top up on the veggies I do have.  Now we are into the colder months I need to keep us fed with good hearty unfussy food.  This in our household is made up of stews, pies, soups, casseroles for during the week with plenty of veggies on the side.

Starters and or/
pack-ups this week include:

French Onion Soup
Leek and Potato Soup
Worcester Pea and Ham Soup
Veggie soup
Waste not want not soup (a chuck everything in version using up odds and ends) usually made with the remnants from the chicken
Cream of Chicken soup
A sandwich can also be taken to eat with this

The soups we can have as a starter or take to work with us as part of our lunch.  Both of our employers have microwaves available to the staff to warm food up in.  Sometimes all I need is a bowl of soup it very much is a meal in itself for me.

The idea of having soup as a starter is that it is a good filling meal on its own.  So a little before the main event will help pad out the meal more and mean that you will get more out of your meat portion than just one meal.  The logic being that you will not need as much.  Especially if then followed with a pudding (which again helps pad the whole meal out and which does not have to consist of much) just a bit of something either lighter or sweeter, or a piece of fresh fruit and/or cheese and biscuits.

The following come under main meal heading

Beef stew
Chicken stew
Home made Chicken pie
Shepherds/Cottage Pie
Liver and Onions
Roast Pork
Stir fry
Bubble and Squeak with any left over veggies
Bacon sarnies or fry up
Baked potatoes
Cornish style pasties

I also pad my main meals out with home made sausage, sage and onion stuffing, Yorkshire puddings, Bread sauce, etc, roast potatoes, roast parsnips, roast pumpkin...

However do not throw the veggie peelings away.  Make sure they are cleaned (carrots just need a good scrub outer leaves of cabbage need washing, stems of broccoli need fine slicing etc.) and you can use the vegetable peels to make veggie stock for use in the soups and stews.  Do not waste a thing.  After all you have paid out for them and the stock is the key that holds the rest of the meal together. If that is nice and tasty the whole meal will be.

I would just mention that there are more ingredients on the above list than we will actually use but none of it will go to waste and if I am not going to use them they will get frozen.  I make sure that I have the choice as sometimes what we had planned to eat gets substituted for something else because we just do not fancy it.  OH is particularly difficult in this regard.  However you have to react to your own circumstances and needs which is why I deal with matters on this basis.  For me it is just not about counting the pennies it is about making sure that there is good food on the table at all times.  I know I am lucky in this respect.  However a lot of my meals were born out of a 4 1/2 year period of time when my OH was out of work and we were surviving on my meagre income without any assistance from the Government at all.


Sticky Toffee Pudding
Treacle or Cherry Sponge pudding
Queen of Puddings (using some of the jam out of the cupboard)
Lemon or Orange self-saucing pudding
Bread and Butter Pudding
Bread Pudding (for pack up box or nibbles)
Rice Pudding
Semolina Pudding
Other half likes Tapioca or as we used to call it Frogspawn I cannot bear it.
Home made Fresh fruit salad

I have bought two trays of eggs today, some leeks, some swede, some carrots, (some swede and carrot crush is on the cards) plus swede on its own, two nets of onions (I am thinking onion relish/marmalade), two cauliflowers (one earmarked for Cauliflower cheese), Broccoli, spinach, Hispi/spring heartshaped cabbage or Savoy cabbage, mushrooms

One tray of eggs has been earmarked for pickling. I bought two trays of eggs the other day and one of the cats got where he should not and demolished both trays.  Talk about scrambled eggs - not one of them was saved. I was not a happy bunny.

One has therefore been earmarked for general use and baking.  But we will also get scrambled eggs, (not by courtesy of Bumble this time round but by choice) omelettes, boiled eggs, fried eggs, poached eggs out of if so required.  A bit of baking and also for use in egg custards, quiche etc. etc.

I always keep a sack of potatoes in.  On average one large sack of potatoes lasts me 6 to 8 weeks and we don't have potatoes every day

I always have milk in anyway as we use a lot so this coupled with the other ingredients will indeed go a long way. In effect I have more than a week's shopping here with careful use of the ingredients.  Quite filling meals for the two of us which is what you need at this time of year.

So you can eat well if you choose your ingredients sensibly.  I do not plan my meals they evolve from the ingredients I have in store,  from the fridge, freezers, pantry, fresh veg store and the jam store.  This is one of the reasons I concentrate on making sure that all these resources are kept stocked - one month we might need stuff for the pantry i.e. tinned stuff and it is on offer which is a bonus; another it will be stuff for the freezer when it is meat month it is always most expensive as a rule but when this happens very little other stuff is bought so it always equals out.  I always cook plenty.  This way round if there is any left over it is not wasted and forms the basis of another meal, but equally if other half is in a hungry mood he gets to have what he needs to make sure that he has had plenty to eat.  I am not a fancy cook but we eat relatively well.  Yes we have some meat, but most of our meals are padded out with lots of vegetables as well and we make the most of what we have as best as we can. 

I know I am not the only one to deal with things this way a lot of you ladies who read here also do, but there is very much a younger generation who do not understand the logic and the reasoning behind the older way of cooking or indeed the basics of constructing a meal i.e. with a soup starter, then a main meal and then a pudding or indeed how to use up left overs and turn them into a different meal and something that will tempt the taste buds.  Most of them go for more exotic eating without thinking about the basics.  I do so wish that they would bring back domestic science classes for young ladies and young men alike as a necessary skill.  We used to get about five hours a week.  The practical skills are just as important as academic skills if not more so as no matter what our situation we all need to eat to keep fit and make our way through life.

Homily over.

Catch you soon.



Visit to the Hairdressers

This morning I have spent mostly in the hairdressers (been there about for 3 hours for a colour, a wash and a set)  I am turning into my mother (well not on the colour but definitely the set - although this is a different kind of set to what she used to have).

For many years I have lived straight over the road from my hairdressers salon so I only have to walk straight across the road.  As a younger person I only had my hair trimmed every so often as really I did not like anyone messing with my hair. Going to the hairdressers was an "Endurance" rather than a pleasure probably due to the fact that someone else was in "my space" rather than anything else, but that is the way I was.

My hair has always been very fine but a lot of it so if it got into a "cott" a nice old fashioned English word meaning tangle boy did it get in a mess and it was often painful trying to untangle it. Especially when my hair was a lot longer (although as I have got older my hair is gradually getting shorter although still about shoulder level).   As a result I probably used the hairdresser at most three times a year and sometimes not at all.I have never been one to take care of myself.  I am good at looking after everyone else but not me.

However as I have got older my hair has got a bit thinner still very fine though and I have been seeking the assistance of the hairdresser more and more.  I had decided earlier in the year that I was going to try and take care of myself that little bit more and my vain spot is my hair.  I am gradually going grey around the gills specifically on the left hand side and I have left my hair but ended up with a "Mallen streak" just like my mother which I have not coped with very well as it has made me feel ancient.  So for me it is a necessity to have my hair done every six to seven weeks.  I am only 58 - I don't feel old for my age although my body does not co-operate and I refuse to be defined by my medical conditions.  I suppose what I am saying is that I am now looking on my trip to the hairdressers as a treat.  It makes me feel good about myself even though I am no oil painting and am just me. and more importantly gives a boost to my confidence (which is never very high anyway).

Or perhaps it is me being more accepting of myself in the longer term and trying to look presentable and tidy.  Well that is what I aim for anyway. especially as I have to look neat for work.   My hairdresser is good and does a mean trim but she also tries to sort out something hairstyle wise that suits you and is easily manageable.  Her ethos is that everyone spends money at the hairdressers (which is all well and good for her) but that person cannot always maintain and manage to care for their hair properly when at home, which I think is very practical and perceptive.  She suggested to me six to seven weeks for my hair and has given me tips on how to look after my hair in the interim.

Whilst I was waiting for my hair to cure with the colour, I was offered a magazine and a drink which is the norm and then left to cook for about 40  minutes.  During this period I was watching and listening to what was going on in the shop.  The salon was vibrant and energetic with each client coming in with a little bit of what was going on in their lives and catching up with their hairdresser and what was happening with them.  A meeting place a catch up place for everyone and I found it fascinating.  One hairdresser was off to London for the weekend to go to a show The Lion King and then visit the Shard.  Another going off to Berlin to visit her son and making a weekend of it.  Another client of to Seville to visit family all very cosmopolitan. Some of the clients having their hair done to attend a wedding later in the day

They have a young trainee in the shop who is lovely and really nice natured and good with all the clients no matter the age.  I never recognise her as she is so experimental with her hair and her makeup which is a little way out at times but very much suits her.  She is an experimental type of person which I think is really good if you want to be a Hairdresser and a Beautician.  However she is very good at washing and massaging your hair.  She nearly sends me to sleep she is that good.  

So I have gone from being evading the hairdressers to very much enjoying the experience and budgeting to have that one session every six to seven weeks as a treat to myself.  Its funny really in the greater scheme of things because as a youngster we used to take the mick out of my mum for going on a regular basis and I am now without realising it carrying on that process that tradition. I think it must be a stage you get to in life. So what goes around comes around and catches us all at some point in our lives.

Needless to say I feel very good at the moment as I know I have been tidied up.  A little bit of my favourite perfume Jon Paul Gaultier's "Classique" and I shall feel on top of the world.  Pity I am not going out anywhere for a meal but that may be something that is on the list for this weekend in any event.

Is there something that you do or need that makes you feel better about yourself in the longer term and are you like me trying to keep yourself tidy and look after yourself in the longer term as well as keep maintenance of yourself in the interim.  I can do a basic set and have coloured friend's hair at home from one of the DIY sets but I cannot get my arms up easily to the back of my head to do fancy plaits or style my hair which I have quite fancied from time to time.  Can any of you do this for yourselves and what are your hints and tips for someone who would like to try.  Would love to know.

Catch you later.



First new Christmas decoration for this year

I have succumbed and ended up buying a wooden automaton music box soldier to go with my other collection of German wooden Toy soldiers all of which are music boxes but each of which plays a different tune.  However they are not automatons.  This new one is. 

There are strings at the back of the soldier which make the soldier move.  His arms come up and down onto the drum, but his mouth also moves up and down as well.  It also plays most appropriately the little drummer boy.  The musical movement is in the base upon which the soldier stands.  They have other ones available and the tunes and the movements are very different. One has a staff which he moves up and down as he leads the parade.  They are all soldiers but all decorated slightly differently.

It was about 16 years ago I came across reduced wooden and music box toy soldiers which should have been about £30 apiece in The Works - I think they were about £7 apiece then.  All are different all play different Christmas tunes.   I have a passion for music boxes in any event and have quite a collection of different ones; but that is another story.  

I was particularly pleased with these initial purchases and have gone on over the years to add to my collection.  However the soldiers have to go on parade at Christmas.  I also have a musical toy soldier band with brass bells that clink and play various different Christmas tunes which is another automaton.  I always associate the Toy Soldiers with the Nutcracker Ballet which is often showed at Christmas and also a song that my Dad started to teach me on the piano called the March of the Toy Soldiers/Parade of the Tin Soldiers (if I remember correctly).

I count these sorts of decorations as modern heirlooms.

I was also looking at the Father Christmas and also the Angel ornaments which always look so splendid but are little more than a cone underneath.  the heads are all porcelain though.  

So that is my first new addition to the Christmas decoration box for this year.  I may end up with a couple of more yet however it will depend on whether they have any when I go back.  I don't want the same movements or the same music so they have to be individual and different.

I also have plans to make a lot of decorations for the tree myself.

One thing I will tell you though is that as a child I had always wanted a proper snow globe which was something that never happened more I think due to price than anything else.  My step-son went for work experience with the school he was at which was a local toy shop.  Out of that he managed to get a regular Saturday job.  That first Christmas he was in employment he saved up his pennies and bought me a snow globe.  I still have this and it is one of my most cherished decorations because he had saved up hard to buy me something that he knew I liked and had always wanted.  I could not believe it when I opened the box; needless to say there were lots of happy tears.

Do any of you have a decoration that means the world to you or have you bought a new decoration or decorations this year from your home.  Its good to share.

Catch you soon.



Friday, 20 October 2017

A little bit naughty but very nice

This evening we have been a little bit naughty.  We have had a Chinese take away for a change.  We try not to indulge as it soon runs away with you money, but tonight I was tired after a long week and I did not really feel much like cooking and just wanted to flop when we got in and I still do not feel like doing much.

We had chop Suey, Hong Kong chicken, house special fried rice, with pineapple fritters for pudding.  It has gone down very nicely between us - I am now stuffed but it made a very nice change.

So I am pootling around on the Internet, doing some further research for further posts but apart from that I do not intend to do anything else it s a flop night.

Its very cold again outside and I have bunged the heating back on to try and warm everywhere up as I am more than a tad chilly.

I went into TK Maxx today and was eyeing up some faux fur throws for Christmas - we shall see.  Its something I have had my eye on for the past couple of Christmas's but the price has been a little too high.  We shall see,  what we shall see.

I have also bought my first new Christmas decoration for this year.  I will post more on that a little later on; but I did manage to also get a Panettone in a very pretty serving tin and also some hollow chocolate baubles to pop onto the Christmas tree.  They are both being popped up - the Panettone I shall use in a Christmas bread and butter pudding or trifle depends what takes my fancy on the day.   The pretty tin will be used for keeping cake or biscuits in the pantry. It is not for cooking in.  It was £7.99 and they had other options available more Christmas orientated but I liked this pretty floral one.

So a few more things to add to the stash.  I am particularly pleased with the tin but also the hollow chocolate baubles as this was the type of chocolate treat that my Nan used to put on her Christmas tree for us children although obviously a different maker.

Right am off to do more research.

Catch you later on.



Thursday, 19 October 2017

Squirrel or Hedgehog

It is getting very chilly at night so much so I am having to pop the heating on for a little while each day.  When I get up and in the evening when I get in although I try not to put it on unless I have to.  Unfortunately if my hands get cold I have had it so the heating has to go on.  The animals do not mind and seem to relish the heat.

I think I must also be a bit of a hedgehog in that when the nights start to get darker I just want to hibernate and not do much but I know I have to keep whittling away at things to try and keep on top of things.  Its just good to get into the house and be comfy; with soft lighting so it is not harsh on my eyes although when I am typing on the keyboard I do need the full light these days.  However of an autumn or winter's evening I prefer softer lighting which is more atmospheric.   I quite frequently also have just candlelight as well. I cannot do close work like needlepoint or embroidery under such lighting but I can still crochet.  So at this time of year I very much turn into a hedgehog want to keep warm and snug in my own home.  We do not venture far.  The finishing touch would be a couple of log fires one in the dining room and one in the front room to curl up in front of and heat the house.  The heat from a proper fire is wonderful on a cold winters day.

Equally when it comes to the preserving I am very much a Squirrel.  I put everything down in the pantry (or should that be up) so that we have plenty of supplies to carry us through the winter months.  I enjoy doing it and I love having the option of different foods to cook with and I know there are no nasties in them.  I am the same with the freezers and the winemaking etc.  It gives me a great deal of satisfaction to look at a shelf of preserves I have made knowing that I have ingredients to use in meals for quite some time to come.

I invested in a new to me wine rack yesterday from the Charity shop (I will take a picture at a later date).  I am going to need the storage as this weekend I have a marathon wine making session ear-marked and so I will need the storage for those bottles.  I also have in mind that I want to get some Apple pop underway, some cider, and apple juice as well as ginger beer.  There are also a few more cordials I would like to get put up. I also have to sort the shed out and get my barbecue and pizza oven put away and all my bottles sorted and stored correctly so that I can find them.  I tend to use the shed as an overflow from the kitchen so all bulky items also get stored in there.  However it does need a good sort out especially with Christmas on its way.

Preserving is not the only thing I am a squirrel with though. I am the same when I see things that I like and I have a view to decorate a room I will collect things together until I am ready to use them so it does overspill in a big way to all areas of my life.  I think I am an inveterate squirrel in this respect.

So hedgehog or squirrel you decide or maybe I am just me a hybrid a little bit of both.  Whatever the term decided upon I get a great deal of pleasure in doing what I do.  I may not have the smallholding/land or the livestock, its something I aspire to, but at least I get to practice in other areas whilst in waiting for the dream home - I am convinced it will come when the time is right  - eventually.

Right I have to get ready for my last day at work this week tomorrow.  It has been a long week and a tiring one.

Catch you soon.



The Charity Shop calls...

every so often and I just have to go and have a nosey around.  I cannot help it.  Its like the call of the sea - you just cannot get away from it. However today I have found some rather nice finds.

A two tier cream cake stand a one off but hopefully I will be able to find another one to go with it.

A wine rack to go with one already in situ.

A large glass flower vase in a pretty shape

A large fruit dish/centre piece for the Christmas table

Four triple candle holders currently in silver but I may change the colour yet they are currently silver but I am thinking gold.

Four dessert dishes and a large fruit bowl (will go with one I inherited from my mum as it is the same design)

Two Bisque porcelain figurines.

I also managed to buy this brand new sizzling platter for a couple of pounds.

And last but not least a pretty cross stitched picture

So not a bad little haul this time round.

Catch you soon.



Cost a few pennies today but I still got a bargain

Only 11 Weeks to go (plus a few days)

To Christmas 2017. Don't panic Mr Mannering!

As you may be aware I have been plotting and planning Christmas this year  for more than a few weeks!  So I am a Christmas Nut that's me I will freely admit to it.  I have cousins who are as well - so I think its a family thing. Last year I did not have much of a Christmas although we got by.  Due to the date of the operation on my foot which was the 13 December 2016 it kind of got in the way of me being able to do anything like I normally do in the last few days running up to Christmas.  OH had to cook dinner and do a lot of other things which I think came as a bit of a shock. Practically I just could not do anything apart from rest with my foot up.  So because I did not get to do it last year I suppose I have gone into overdrive this!

As I explained in my post "Christmas to me as a Child" there are many things which I like to try and carry on by way of tradition,   It is important to me and gives me a sense of where I come from and who I am.

I am pleased to report that I have done an awful lot of the food shopping on the baking front and on some of the sweeties and alcohol side of things.  As well as having made a lot of stuff already.  I will update my list (probably at the weekend if I get some time),  But I intend from now on in to post up recipes of things I am considering cooking or possible things you might like to do yourselves or to make as presents. I am not sure whether to post them as stand alone items or a continuous post with all the recipes in one place.  What would you prefer?  I am also thinking that if you do not use the recipes this year it might be something that you will do next year.  I have over the years accumulated an awful lot of recipes.

Waitrose have nuts in already. For mixed nuts this year they are charging £8 per kg.  I shall go to my veg shop and see if I can get them any cheaper.  The veg shop already has monkey nuts (these and other nuts were also stuffed into our stockings with an orange and some sweeties.  They are always worth keeping in as they can be strung to make garlands and tree decorations.  The same as if you make home made popcorn and fresh cranberries can also be made into garlands.  

I love having nuts in the house at Christmas yet again something that we had when we were children.  Some of you will say - why get them we never eat them all.  It does not matter their life is not over just because you do not eat them by Christmas.  I always keep them and use them in craft work gluing them onto polystyrene baubles or making garlands with them utilising the inside of a kitchen roll; painting it gold and then gluing a mixture of nuts all over the holder and then stringing them to form one continuous garland.  There is never any need for waste.  You can also turn the nuts into praline or use them in dishes such as Waldorf salad for Walnuts or nougat for almonds.   There is always something you can do.

You can also do the same sort of things with larch cones or fir cones.  

The cheapest place for packaged nuts I have found has been Lidl.

I intend to get Chestnuts as well for roasting and using in other recipes of which there are quite a range and which I will be covering in a later post.

I have booked a week off in the middle of November and hope to get quite a lot done then as well as go and see my cousin in Lincoln for a day.  So there is still plenty to do but if I plan my time well enough hopefully I should be able to get everything done.  Fingers crossed and toes plaited.

Well sorry this is a quick post - needs must and all that.

Be back shortly.



Wednesday, 18 October 2017

A combination of things......

A combination of ingredients that I like anyway i.e. cinnamon, bread, home made mincemeat if possible (otherwise bought), butter, makes an everyday sharing bread known as Cinnamon buns but which can also be turned into a wreath for festive occasions.  I thought I might have a trial run with a new recipe today which I had not tried before and which comes from Landscape a Year full of recipes ISSN: 2059-32X.  I just fancied something comforting.  Today is the funeral of my sister in law, the weather is dank, wet and damp and above everything else I fancied something sweet. 

However I also thought it was an opportunity, for a recipe for Christmas (as well as everyday) and also to showcase home made mincemeat.  I still have some on the pantry shelf from last year that I made so I have an advantage there however I have a Rumptopf full of yummy fruits curing as we speak.  This might be one of those recipes that is simple enough for anyone to have a go at and use up that half jar of mincemeat that has been lurking in the pantry since last Christmas.  It should be okay to use - if it looks a little dry just add a little spirit like a splosh of rum or brandy and it will still be good to go.


400g of strong bread flour
7g sachet of easy blend yeast
3 tablespoons of golden caster sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons of salt
25g of butter
4 tablespoons of milk
175-250ml warm water
2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
250g home made mincemeat (or bought)
50g of icing sugar
Cold water


Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 6/200 degrees C

Place the flour in the mixing bowl and stir in the yeast, sugar and salt.  Rub in the butter.  Add the milk and enough water to make a soft dough.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead well for 5 minutes until smooth and elastic.  Place in a lightly oiled bowl turning to coat the dough in the oil.  Cover and leave in a warm place to rise for one hour or so until doubled in size.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, roll or press out to form a 40 x 20cm rectangle.  Place the rectangle so that the long edge is at the front.

Stir the cinnamon into the mincemeat and spread evenly over the dough leaving a 2 cm line of the dough at the far end clear of the filling.  Dampen the clean edges of the dough with a little water and starting with the long end nearest roll up the dough into a tight log.

Cut into 2cm thick slices and place in a circle overlapping on a lightly greased tray.  Cover loosely with oiled cling film and leave in a warm place for 30  minutes.

Uncover and bake in a preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes.  Allow to cool for five minutes then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Mix the icing sugar with enough cold water to form a smooth icing and drizzle back and forth over the ring to decorate.  Leave the icing to set before serving.


Catch you soon.



Shropshire Pea Soup

Its cold and damp and I fancied something quick to warm me up for my dinner so this is in the pot as we speak ready for me to munch on with some crusty bread and butter.  I know it sounds uncouth but I have to have butter on my bread with soup, it somehow makes it richer.


500g peas
1 onion finely chopped
25g of butter
Large sprig of mint plus mint leaves to garnish
900ml of vegetable stock
Salt and pepper
100ml of double cream plus extra to serve


Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the onion.  Cook over a low heat for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally until the onion softens and begins to turn brown,

Remove the leaves from the mint and add to the pan with the peas and stock.  Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 15 minutes until the peas are tender.  Blitz in a food processor (or with a hand thingy) until smooth.

Season to taste and then stir in the double cream reheating without boiling.  Serve garnished with the mint leaves and a swirl of extra cream and some chunky buttered bread.


Catch you soon.


Recipe taken from Landscape a Year full of recipes

Monday, 16 October 2017

I thought I was going mad earlier on this afternoon

Since about mid morning I have had one major headache a real splitter which I think was down to all the change in electrical energy because of this storm or remnants of it.  The light went yellowy and strange  and oppressive quite threatening and strange.  Everyone remarked on it.  I went to make a cup of afternoon tea and happened to look out of the window in the kitchen and could not believe that the sun was bright pinky red.  I had to look twice to make sure I was not dreaming and if I had been an ancient inhabitant of this country and saw that I would have been convinced that the end was nigh!  It was rather odd though.  I read later on that it was due to Ophelia picking up sand from the desert!

However we live to tell the tale.  Apart from that it has not been too bad a day.  Since being home however it has rained and the wind is blowing a right old hooley and the wind is certainly stronger and louder than it was earlier in the evening.  I am just pleased to be in the warm inside.  I have been a tad cold so the heating is on.  It will not be long before I go to bed.  Perhaps to read for a little while and try and rest and get some sleep although I doubt it will be a quiet night as there a right hurly burly going on outside an awful lot of huffing and puffing.

Just keep safe everyone hopefully it will be quieter tomorrow.



Some Crafty projects

On the walk out with Missy yesterday evening I noticed that some of the trees had had loose twigs blown off them.  Being as we did not go the long way round I ended up picking up one or two of them and came back with quite a little stash.  I intend to turn them into some Christmas decorations for the house.  Some of them have green moss on them.  I had thought to give a light dusting of white paint to some of these twigs and to some of the larch cones which I also gathered up.  I had also thought of bleaching some of the larch cones and dying them red.  I am going to mull that one over.

I have purchased quite a few long cinnamon sticks from Tiger which I also have stashed plus 1kg of cinnamon sticks I purchased last year which are also going to be turned into decorations of one sort or another.  I have star anise as well.  Some small oranges are going into the dehydrator this week split so that they can be used in garlands and I also intend to start the Pomanders off.  I think by the end of the week the house will smell quite Christmassy and spicy as I also have the Mincemeat on the go.

I need to get a big bag of cloves though - I did have one but have misplaced it so I think I will be having a recce round town this week to see if I can source some.

I have some polystyrene balls that I have had for a little while which I also intend to use.  I had thought to paint the balls in gold and then glue on the little larch cones all over the surface and then attach a ribbon and use them as hanging baubles off the wall garlands which I have for the house.  I thought that the star anise could be used in this way as well.  Using a glue gun and putting on a few at a time.  I had also thought to get some larger twigs about the size of a 5p piece and cut down into little slices and yet again decorate the baubles in the same way, giving them a varnish once they are finished.  there is so much you can do when you get going.

I use cloves a lot particularly at Christmas; in the bread sauce, studded in the ham - then glazed with brown sugar and honey it is lovely.  Mum first did this one Christmas when I was a teenager.  I had never had anything like it and I absolutely loved it but then I do go a bundle on pastrami anyway. 

I also want to get some mulling sachets made up and get some lemon and orange peel dried to go in with them.

So as usual quite a few projects in the planning and trying to do a couple of the smaller ones of an evening with the bigger projects being tackled at the weekends.  Trying to make the most of my time as usual.  There is about ten weeks left until it is Christmas so really need to get a wriggle on as much as I can.

I also need to get some croutons made and also bread dried for my own bread sauce mixture straight from the pantry.  I also want to fry some onions and then dehydrate them for some extra flavouring for gravies, breads etc.  its all in the experimentation and as usual I am up to my neck in it.  Told you before it is just the depth that varies.

Ta ta for now.

Catch you later.



The Embroidery Machine

I still have not used it not for not wanting to but I am still not clear in the craft room/computer room.  I just don't know where all the stuff comes from.  I have also been on You Tube watching some tutorials and eyeing up designs on different embroidery sites.  I have bought in some embroidery threads and also two different types of backing.  One sulky the other more Vilene based.  I have been eyeing up quite a lot of designs some of which are freebies on various websites and also creating Wish Lists; needless to say this is for about an hour before I go up the wooden hill to Bedfordshire but I am having a good look around and getting terribly inspired.  This does not bode well.

My cousin does not know that I have invested in a sewing machine yet. She already has one and has had one for quite some time. I am hopefully going to be able to visit and see her in Lincoln soon.  She also is very good at needlework and cooking.  My mum and her mum were sisters with about 10 months between them and so the two of us have been raised more like sisters than cousins.  Needless to say she is one of my closest cousins.  However what is extremely interesting is that for the best part the pair of us have gone shopping independently and bought things and when it turns out she has items I have bought and visa versa.  Not everything of course but it has caused quite a bit of amusement over the years.  So with the Embroidery machine I will get to play shortly and then there will be no stopping me.

There are four sites I have been looking at.  There are a lot more out there but the ones I have been concentrating on  are:

There are freebies on some of them as well (on the embroidery designs one you can have three freebies per week.

I think part of the trouble is that I need to be organised when I am working and I have not been able to find all my accoutrements for the ordinary sewing machine and I don't want to go and buy new if I can help it.  So I really do need a good clear out and I am hoping for some serious sorting out time soon.  When OH goes fishing again the computer/craft room is getting a major overhaul and then I will be able to get cracking.

There is so much I want to achieve and do.

Then of course there is the sewing machine.  

Once the house is sorted I am going to allow myself the luxury of playing to my heart's content with no housework to break it up.  That is a promise to myself.

Catch you soon.



Sunday, 15 October 2017

Sunday catch up

Its been a busy kind of day doing a bit of this and a bit of that; getting ironing sorted and dashing away with the smoothing iron in readiness for the week to come. 

I have also rubbed some of the dried herbs the sage has been "rubbed" and decanted into a glass storage jar and the other herbs have been split from their stems in the case of the Rosemary and the thyme with the Oregano, Marjoram flat leaved parsley and parsley also stored into jars.  I have a few more to dry for use in the winter months as well and also to bring some more bay leaves in to dry off of my little tree in the garden.   I am trying to hang off on the bay leaves a little as I intend to use quite a few of them for some dried orange and lemon garlands for the house this Christmas.

I have also finished off some fruit vinegars and my mixed herb vinegar as well as started my Mincemeat.  My friend Bovey Belle first introduced me to a traditional recipe for home made Mincemeat many moons ago and I can honestly say it is the best one I have ever made. (I don't use suet in it) and my main recipe for Mincemeat although I do make a couple of other variations one with Amaretto but by a slightly different method.

Here is a link to the recipe for those of you who want to make a traditional full flavoured mincemeat that is absolutely lush.  Its on my friend's blog Codlins and Ceam2 (oh and by the way she writes a jolly good blog too) - that will make her blush!

Here is the link:

I would say however if you make the mincemeat which is relatively simple to make keep in a relatively cool place as otherwise the apples will go into a full ferment and may develop a mould.  Subsequently because I live in a centrally heated home I tend to store it in the cupboard under the stairs or in  the shed. I also stir everyday.  

Into mine this year so far is brown sugar golden sultanas dark sultanas raisins apple carrot currants cherries dried apricots cinnamon  ground cloves mace orange zest lemon zest mixed peel.  So lots of goodies and the pot is only half full.  Even after two days it is very juicy.  I would mention that I use a Rumptopf jar to make the mincemeat in.  You could use a very large glass jar with a lid.  I also cover usually with muslin but as I did not have any this time round I used a small freezer bag underneath the main lid just to make sure nothing else gets in other than what you want in.  There is no spirit in yet this is just from the juice of the apples and the brown sugar it soaks into the dried fruit and plumps it all up.  I will add a little rum or brandy when I am happy it is ready.

Change of plan we are having the Venison and Steak pie for tea tonight. I had planned on having a bit of roast beef.  That will have to wait though as I have quite a bit of other stuff to do although I will still be serving with veggies.  There is also a blackberry and apple pie for afters if he feels like it.

Catch you later.



P.S.  We had the most fantastic tea.  The Steak and Venison pie was to die for.  We shall certainly be having that again it was serioiusly delicious.  One of the best pies we have ever had from Johnsons and the Cornish Pasties are seriously tasty too.

I served with mixed runner bean, pea and broccoli veg, carrot and swede crush, Colcannon (mashed potato), steamed spring cabbage and served with lots of gravy.  There is still half a pie left so we shall be finishing that off tomorrow evening for tea.

Right better get a wriggle on.

Catch you soon.



Sunday morning Pootling

After  my busy out and about day yesterday I really need to start to settle to household chores and getting stuff sorted for the week ahead.  You no sooner get into a weekend than its time to go back to work again.

To start with it would appear that I have some new followers who I would just like to make welcome.  I hope you enjoy my musings there are lots of posts going back forever on all sorts of bits and bobs. Anyway get that cup of tea or coffee and make yourself comfortable you are very welcome.

Its a grey dreary Sunday morning here in Peterborough and it has gone slightly chillier again.  We have already had bacon butties for breakfast.  I bought some green back bacon from the Butchers yesterday and it is very tasty.

I have added a few more bits and bobs to the Christmas putdown and will update the list later on.  However in the next few weeks or so I intend to make some sausage rolls and freeze them so that at Christmas instead of leaving the sausage rolls in a tin or in the fridge then I shall just get them out of the freezer and straight into the oven when we decide we would like a few.  There is nothing nicer than a hot sausage roll anyway.  I also intend to make mincepies, coconut cheesecakes all the basic stuff the same way so that for spending a little time now I can reap the rewards at Christmas and concentrate a little more on the fancier stuff. I have bottled cherries on the pantry shelf, bottled peaches in syrup, bottled pears and apricots and intend to do some fruit salad in the next few weeks or so and bottled strawberries so I can always make a home made "Black Forest" style gateau or a Pavlova or two, Trifle and other tasty treat and just add whatever fruit floats my boat at that time from the pantry shelf.  So there is a reason to me preserving so much for the pantry shelf.  There is of course also the option of keeping puff pastry in the fridge or freezer and then making up a variety of different fancies from a simple pack of puff pastry like, bacon, cheese and mustard parcels, mille feuilles, pinwheels, and there are always on Facebook posts on how to do something different to make the taste buds go into overdrive.  So I am also popping up puff pastry into the freezer so that I have enough availableover the Christmas period.  There is always something you can do in a little amount of time with a packet of puff pastry.  Its just getting yourself organised and as the saying says practice makes perfect.

Right am off to get a cup of tea and to get pootling away in the kitchen.  Hope you all have a lovely quiet Sunday wherever you may be.

Catch you later on.



Meet the Moggies

  • Merlin (approx 18 months)
  • Squeak (approx 2 years)
  • Poppy (approx 16 years)
  • Tyson (approx 17 years)
  • Tinky (official name Clover approx 18 years)