Tuesday 30 September 2014

Barmouth and wedding rings!

This was the view out of the front of our holiday cottage just on the outskirts of Dolgellau:
There was a similar but closer mountain view out the back. No photograph as it was predominantly in cloud. Good job we took the photograph on the Monday morning as that was the best day view wise!

After breakfast, we headed to the Corris Craft Centre to see if the Agau jewellery artist was there. He makes all his own jewellery but seems to specialise in rings. DS and FDiL had visited on their last holiday and although he doesn't use Welsh gold, is a Welsh craftsman, which interested FDiL.

He wasn't there but we had a look around anyway and called back on Wednesday to see him. They were ages but found the style of rings they wanted and they should be with them in a couple of weeks. Usual stuff but one or two interesting shops including a wood person selling all kinds of furniture and other useful domestic goodies. There was also a nice deli where we bought some local food, plus a cup of coffee and a cake from the cafe. You can read more about it here

After that we headed off to Barmouth to partake of the beautiful weather, views, sea and sandy beach. Eventually we found the area for those with dogs and off we went. It was Master L's first trip to the beach and he enjoyed himself. He is so big that we forget he is only 8 months old and still a puppy. He enjoyed swimming with his sisters but not so them at times. He kept trying to jump on them, like puppies do which almost pushed them under. As can be seen in the photograph below, they quickly learnt to move away!:
It was just glorious and we had a long walk, FDiL had a paddle and all in all, we had a great time:

Here are some views from the beach:

We headed back to the front to find somewhere to eat and had a nice meal sitting out the front of a Davy Jones Locker. Another walk and we came back to the front and sat outside the Knickerbocker Ice Cream Parlour to enjoy some much needed coolness.

It was coming off the beach that I obtained my first couple of injuries of the holidays. The sea path was so full of sand, it was difficult to see where the edge was. The wall was only a couple of feet high so I decided to walk along that for safety! Shouldn't have bothered.

Just as I was in mid jump, DS shouted "mind the child". Adjusting yourself mid jump is never a good idea even though I couldn't see a child, I didn't want to land on one. Turned out she was about 30' away!

Anyhow, like you do, I curtailed my jump crashing knee and shin first into the edge of the wall. That hurt but the worst was trying to stop myself landing face first. Hands shot out and my left palm and wrist took my full weight. I knew I hadn't broken it but boy, did it hurt. Within 10 minutes my thumb stopped working properly and just to be sure, I held my hand and arm, still and upwards. Trying to eat ice cream with your fore and middle finger is not very easy. Anyway, come night time my whole arm and shoulder, plus knee and shin hurt but all were still relatively mobile.

A sleepless night followed (mainly due to the uncomfortable bed), but the next day, all seemed well so we decided to tackled the mountain near us, Cadair Idris...

Monday 29 September 2014

Another prepared meal

So much for automatic scheduled publishing of posts! This one, and the last, should have published last week whilst we were away!! Anyhow, it will take me quite a few days to catch up on all your blog's so please bear with me:)

Welcome to Kaai, Patricia Gibbons and Janice Foehring via Bloglovin!

Something else we prepared for our holidays was Farmers Sausage-meat Hotpot. You can make this for a normal meal in a lasagne dish, you will need 6 - 8 thick sausages for that.

Lightly grease the trays dish. Using 1 or 2 sausages per person, in this case per tray, remove their skin, feel for any 'unwanted' lumps and press into the bottom of the tray:
Then a layer of sliced tomatoes, plus salt and pepper:
Top with a layer of sliced mushrooms, if you like them plus salt and pepper:
Next should be a layer of chopped, cooked bacon but I didn't have any.
After the bacon, add a layer of apple, cooking or eating:

A layer of grated cheese:
Finally a layer of mashed potatoes:
Pop on the lids, name and freeze. When wanting to eat, thaw out overnight then cook in a hot oven, say 200C, for 25 - 30 minutes or until bubbling and top is starting to brown. Same applies if using a lasagne dish.

Laying the dish in this exact way, helps the juices of one run into the other and intensifies the flavour. We normally eat it on its own with some brown sauce.

Sunday 28 September 2014

Preparing and freezing

Welcome to Cathering Thompson via Bloglovin and Simple Living via here!

When we go away for a few days, we like to take meals with us in some form or the other. We are not keen on eating out every night, mainly due to the financial side of things but also it seems to upset our digestion.

Here are two meals ready for the freezer:

The top one contains oven roasted vegetables, the bottom, cauliflower and broccoli. The bottom picture is after home made cheese sauce has been added. They are sitting in a tray of cold water to cool them down as quickly as possible. Once cool, they will have extra cheese grated on their tops, lids put on and frozen.

Another quick freezer tip for you. If like us, you have difficulty using up flavoured creamed cheese, decant it into freezer trays then when frozen, pop out and store in a tub in your freezer. Each cube is around 2 flat teaspoons or one heaped one:

We tend to only use this cheese for risotto when we take out 2 cubes at the start of cooking. By the time the risotto is nearly ready, the cube is thawed enough to stir in.

Saturday 20 September 2014

Storms and tomatoes

Around 6pm last night, the sky went light yellow, then dark yellow, orange and finally black, all in the space of 30 minutes. It was similar to a solar eclipse but quicker. It was most eerie. The thunder started shortly afterwards, followed by sheet lightening, then fork, then the rain.

Luckily for us, the rain was reasonable light. Our local on-line forecast however, just had us down for heavy cloud! We gather some places were not so lucky.

However, here in the East of the country, in the driest county, we had seen no rain for nearly 3 weeks and were jolly glad to have some. Watering the garden with cans takes a lot of hard work.

I went out to check my tomatoes this morning, using Disprin seems to have worked (unless we were just lucky), no sign of blight. The night time temperatures are getting too cool for outdoor tomatoes so we took the decision to harvest them all, coloured, green, large and small.

They are now sat in the conservatory on trays to dry out, we reckon around 6lb:

After that, we shall pack the green ones away as per Beechgrove instructions just over a week ago and see how they fare.

Friday 19 September 2014

Andy Murray backlash from trolls!

It appears Andy Murray has dropped himself in hot water by appearing to be in the yes camp for Scottish independence. I say appears as his twitter comment is quite well worded and could be taken either way!

What is totally unacceptable, is the back lash on social media. You should be ashamed of yourselves folks. Last time I looked, this was a free country and that is why you are also allowed your voice. It is just such a shame you choose to abuse this right, by saying such nasty, ill thought and downright disgusting things. That is the world of social media sites for you and on this occasion, the trolls have come out in force.

I may be a lone voice on this occasion but Andy is as entitled to voice his opinion as the next person. If his sponsors have taken exception to it, well maybe they need to grow up a bit, you knew the kind of personality you were taking on!

Andy, my opinion of you has not changed one bit, I for one, think you are great just as you are and if you were my son, I would be very proud of you, come what may.

Thursday 18 September 2014

Why I prefer Beechgrove Garden to Gardener's World

First things first, I have updated our menu tab at the top. You can see just how low the cost of our meat consumption is!

I've mentioned a few times now, about the BBC Scotland's (will we still have it if they separate from us?) Beechgrove Garden. It is generally on a Thursday at 7.30pm on FreeSat channel 970 then repeated on a Sunday morning at 08.30  on BBC 2.  If you view your TV through a different broadcaster, or use Freeview,  you'll need to find out what channel it is on!

Last week for example, Beechgrove Garden covered the following subjects:

Growing gourds,
growing but being careful with poisonous plants,
gardening at 700' above sea level,
a tomato feed trial - bought tomato food versus home made comfrey tea (the comfrey won),
growing things in the polythene greenhouse,
squash trials - growing in peat free versus peat based compost (the peat based compost won),
moss removal from lawns,
lifting, dividing and replanting bearded iris,
starting Christmas hyacinths,
growing your own loofah and most liked by me,
how to store your vegetables overwinter such as in clamps or keeping them in the refrigerators for longer than normal so they don't go off!

If you want to know how to keep your vegetables fresh in your fridge for weeks, check out the programme that aired Thursday 11th or Sunday 14th September. It was very informative.You can also catch up with most of the programmes on the BBC iplayer.

Every week they are trialling something of one kind versus something similar, testing different soil conditions, harvesting vegetables, fruit and flowers, how to prune everything, feeding, weeding, growing in a greenhouse or conservatory, polythene greenhouse or poly tunnels etc. Ground covers plants, feeding the soil etc. They usually do one visit either to a garden or community programme they are part of. They also have downloadable fact sheets re each programme!!

Gardener's World in the same week covered:

Planting wild flowers near hedges where nothing else will grow
planting Foxtail lily,
lifting basil and replanting with parsley,
Carol visiting a Salvia garden
3 things to do this week.

The thing that Monty doesn't do most weeks is vegetables. Come on Monty, many people are growing their own for the first time in the current economic climate yet you rarely talk about them, you seem to far prefer flowers and visiting predominantly flower gardens. Maybe it should be renamed Flower Gardener's World!

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Have you got this yet?

This was sent to me today and normally I never pass this sort of thing on. I think it is meant to be a bit tongue in cheek so no offence intended! We were barely 1/3rd of the way through reading it when tears filled our eyes and we were laughing, because we are both like this!

"Recently, I was diagnosed with  A.A.A.D.D. - Age Activated Attention Deficit Disorder, thank goodness there's a name for this disorder, somehow I feel better, even though I have  it!!

This is how it manifests  itself:

I decide to water my garden, as I turn on the hose in the driveway, I look over at my car  and
decide it needs washing. I head towards the garage,  then notice post on the porch table,that I picked up from the postman earlier.

I decide to go through it before washing the car, so I put my car keys on the table,  put the junk mail in the recycling box under the table, and notice that the recycling box is full.

The bills are put back on the table and I take out the recycling, but then it occurs to me that since I'm going to be near the post box when I take out the recycling I may as well pay the bills first.

I take my cheque book off the table but notice that there is only one cheque left. The new cheque books is in the desk in my study, so I go into the house to my desk where I find the cup of coffee I'd been drinking.  It is getting  cold, so I head towards the kitchen to make a new off, cold coffee in hand. A vase of flowers on the worktop catches my eye - the flowers need water, so the coffee is put down on the worktop, where I discover my reading glasses that I've been searching for all morning!

I decide it is better to put them back on my desk, but first the vase of flowers still need watering. The glasses get put down on the worktop, I fill a jug with water and suddenly spot the TV remote control.. Someone has left it on the kitchen table.

Realising that tonight when we go to watch TV,  we'll be looking for the remote, I decide to put it back where it belongs, but  first I'll water the vase of flowers. This is done but unfortunately it overspills onto the floor.

The remote gets put back on the table,  and I used a towel to wipe up the spill. Empty handed I
wander down the hall trying to remember what I was planning to do.

At the end of the  day, the car still isn't washed, the garden flowers have not been watered, the bills aren't paid, there is a cold cup of coffee sitting on the kitchen work-surface, there is still only 1 cheque in my cheque book.

I can't find the TV remote, or my glasses let alone the car keys. Then, when I try to figure out why nothing got done today, I'm really baffled because I know I was busy all day and I'm really 

Don't laugh - if this isn't you yet, your day is  coming!!

Monday 15 September 2014

More Preserving...

Welcome to Phyllis Weaving via here and Marilyn Stanton, Mary Walker and Barbara Grant from Bloglovin. Glad to have you all aboard the old Norfolk Express!

Last week, I decided to make a half batch of Pam's Piccalilli, see here for the recipe

I slightly altered the recipe to suit our own tastes.  For a half batch I used 7g of turmeric rather than 10g which I find makes the end result a little too dark. Also used 13g of mustard powder rather than the 10g. All in all, the same amount of these combined, just in different measurements! The final change is extra runny honey, 60g instead of 50g.

Unfortunately this time, I thought I would grind my own mustard seeds (white). Absolutely no taste, how weird. Luckily I had some ready made English mustard in the cupboard so used 4 tablespoons of that alongside the bland mustard powder. I was trying not to buy a tin of powder as it is quite expensive.

Anyhow, the taste just before bottling was as normal so hopefully, in 6 weeks time, it should be fine.
Another slight difference is once the vegetables are added, I then bring them to the boil and simmer for a few minutes. Adding the vegetables makes the whole thing almost cold and I am always worried about botulism so like to heat it all again before filling my jars. I suppose, you could fill the cold jars with the veg and then they will heat up as the jars do but haven't tried this.

As it cooled I also noticed a few pale bits which on closer inspection, turned out to be not so finely ground mustard seed:( We ate the spare bit in the jar the next day, it was quite nice so a few weeks mellowing will make it as good as normal. By the way, the vegetables stay very crisp for a long time which is the other thing I like about this recipe.

Also had a go at making Frugal Queen's lentil soup, see here. Quite nice but we adjusted it slightly:)
A teaspoon of mild paprika was added as we only had ham rather than smoked bacon. Also added a good splodge of tomato purée and another stock cube. It lasted us 3 days so was very good value for money.

Sunday 14 September 2014

Check out ...

Our visit to King's Lynn Heritage Open Day on my other blog, This Norfolk Life!

Friday 12 September 2014

Wartime Ham and Potato 'Cakes'

For the love of me, I cannot find the recipe for this so have done it as best as I can remember. Needing ham, we added a small ready cooked piece to our weekly shopping list - not very nice so shan't do that again. Anyhow, after making and eating them - they were lovely - thought I'd give you the recipe. Also realised that these could be made with Spam which would be more in the wartime keeping!

Serves 4

1 1/2lb - 2 lb of mashed potatoes
1 - 2 tablespoons chopped chives or parsley
1 large onion - diced finely
4oz diced bacon, ham or Spam
Salt and pepper to taste
Finely ground Polenta or breadcrumbs

Gently fry the onion until softened and the bacon, ham or Spam until lightly brown, leave to cool.

When cool, add to the mashed potatoes along with the herbs.

Using an ice cream scoop (ours measure 1.5" across) or a good tablespoon of mix, form into balls then flatten into patties.

Roll carefully into the Polenta to coat. If using breadcrumbs, you made need to dip them first into a beaten egg before rolling in breadcrumbs.

Put on a lined tray as each is done, then store in the fridge until required for frying/baking. They must be thoroughly cold as it helps them remain intact if frying.

When ready, add enough fat/oil to a frying pan to cover the bottom. Lay in half the batch and don't turn until you are sure they are crispy on one side. Turn, crisp second side and put on a plate in the oven to keep warm until 2nd batch are ready.

Serve with salad, or hot veg and a flavoursome gravy, or whatever you fancy. We ate half of them for tea and froze the others, in-between sheets of parchment/greaseproof paper, then wrapped in cling film. They need to be cooked from frozen. Sorry about the slightly blurred picture but I had cropped it to fit my menu plan!

Have a lovely weekend everyone!

Wednesday 10 September 2014


I still can't seem to get the hang of growing my beetroot in batches, despite sowing at regular intervals. In the end, they all come up at the same time, must be my timing. Anyhow, harvested the lot the other day and boiled, then skinned them. We had several cold, splashed with vinegar, in sandwiches, the rest went into two large jars of beetroot. I used Rhonda's vinegar recipe from here:
Despite the unusually warm weather for September here in the UK, Autumn is definitely here, as can be seen by my tomatoes in pots. The leaves are really mottled, some tomatoes have burst, the rest don't seem able to ripen naturally very well (other than the 1" cherry ones). Time to make some sweet chilli and tomato sauce:
This is meant to be a thickish chutney but I finish it as soon as the tomatoes are mushy. It doesn't have a lot of vinegar in it so doesn't taste only half done but nice and smooth. That way it turns into a pouring sauce, similar in texture to tomato sauce. I'm hoping it will pour out of those tiny bottles as they are for a present for someone (who doesn't read this blog to my knowledge!). First get your bottles, I keep all my old glass vinegar, sauce, salad cream bottles for this. Wash and dry in an oven set to 80C/100C.

Herewith the recipe. The first half is the spice blend:

3 - 4 dried chilli - de-seeded if you don't want it too hot
1 tsp dried ginger
1 tsp turmeric
3 tsp cumin seeds
5 garlic cloves - crushed
1/4 pt vegetable oil - use only half of this in the blender!

Put all the above spices into a blender with half the oil and blend until reasonably smooth. Don't worry too much if the chilli doesn't blend down so well at this stage.

Prepare 2 lb of fresh tomatoes. Leave the skins on, take out the hard core bit and loosely chop. When done, heat the spice/oil blend in a preserving pan and cook out the spices. Add the rest of the oil, tomatoes, 4 oz white sugar, 1 tablespoon table salt, 1/4 pint nice vinegar and 2 - 3 tablespoons of tomato purée. Bring to a boil then turn down to a simmer. Cook until the tomatoes are mushy. REMEMBER, this is a sauce so don't treat it like a chutney and cook all the liquid away.

As soon as the tomatoes are soft, remove your bottles from the oven. Blend the whole amount with a stick blender. If you only have a normal blender, allow it too cool slightly before blending. Blend until smooth. Using a funnel or jug with a lip, pour into the slightly cooled bottles, filling right up to the top as it shrinks a little when cold. Put on the tops and leave to go cold before labelling.

We now normally leave it for at least one month before using and you will need to shake it well before using as it often separates out during storage. We had a little left over and used the base of it on a scone pizza for tea!

Monday 8 September 2014

The bubbling up of a memory!

First of all, welcome to Chris via Bloglovin and Debbie via here.

The other night, we sat down to watch the first instalment of The Zoo. It is a series about the start of Chester Zoo and looks like it will be quite interesting.

All of a sudden DB piped up "I remember Mr. Mottershead, he came to pick up a chimpanzee from our Grand-dads house"

"A chimpanzee, when did you have a chimpanzee" I asked flabbergasted. We have been married a long while and this was the first I had heard of it!

"I was about 9 and must have been at my Grand-dads house. I think my Uncle B. had brought one back from the British Cameroon's in Africa". His Uncle specialised in tropical medicine so guess he had spent a lot of time abroad.

The chimpanzee wore a nappy and lived freely in the kitchen/living room. He can't remember if it was put somewhere safe overnight:)

My next week of meals on the menus tab have now been added.


Friday 5 September 2014


Welcome to Kimberley Jane Webster via Bloglovin and Happy Homemaker via here!

Earlier this week we emptied out, as best we could, our living room, dining room and connecting hallway. We needed the carpets cleaning and they did a good job. As soon as they had finished, we went out for several hours, leaving windows open on their safety fastenings (meaning no one can get in from outside just in case you are wondering).

Four hours later we returned, the carpets were still quite damp. We sat on the bed reading, listening to music for another hour or so then went and made tea. Eventually we needed to sit down and watch some programmes so we had to lift down one of the settee's. Come the next morning the carpets were just about dry.

Price wise, more expensive than doing it yourself and should they need doing in the future, we will hire a machine providing we are fit and able enough to do them ourselves. In all honesty, barring any major accidents, they probably won't get done again any time soon. The dining room carpet is relatively new, the lounge one has been down many years.

It is amazing how large the rooms looked without the furniture and other things. We have been quite ruthless in getting rid of,  to people and or charity shops, anything we no longer need. Viewing these near empty rooms, has spurred us on to have another clear out. Lets face us, most of us have too many things and when you have cleared out two houses after parents have died, we certainly don't want DS to deal with all our 'stuff'!

Still, another job ticked off our list, where it had lounged about for 2 - 3 years.  Have a lovely weekend everyone!

Wednesday 3 September 2014

In the heat of the Summer...

I was silly enough to do a roast chicken, I know, what was I thinking of! Anyway, I froze the carcass as soon as it was cold and the other day, we thawed it to make some soup. Here it is in a pan, just covered with water and simmered for 30 minutes before being drained and the stock saved:
Once the carcass was cold, it was picked clean, wrapped up in newspaper and put outside in the weekly food container ready for collection. Most weeks, there is barely anything in it. The bin men are talking of going on strike here so hope it gets emptied this week!

An onion was chopped and light fried and added to the stock, along with lots of nearly empty bags of frozen vegetable, peppers, peas, sweetcorn, mushrooms etc, plus 3 chicken stock cubes. When nearly ready, some leftover carrots and runner beans were added, dried tarragon, salt and pepper to taste.

We had it in our new soup dishes along with some grilled and sliced sausage bread rolls (the sausage was cooked inside the bread rolls for 30 minutes, when I was baking our loaves the other day. Worked really well:
The following day, the soup was whizzed up and again served with the last of the toasted sausage rolls:
Under my Menus tab, I have now uploaded the first week of our menu and associated photographs.

Monday 1 September 2014

A peek inside...

Our kitchen food cupboards and 'under the stairs' store cupboard. The latter is a bit of a misnomer as we don't have any stairs but that is what the space is known as!

Lets start 'under the stairs. I posted an article May 2013, on how we converted this space from a disorganised mess into a usable space.

Here is the full width top shelf where we predominantly store preserves:
We hardly drink wine but enjoyed this German white. Unfortunately, the next bottles we bought were a different year and don't taste so nice!

Under this shelf, the cupboard is divided up the middle, from top to bottom. Only the right hand side stores food. This picture was taken the day before this month's monthly food shop so a few more things were added:
Top right are some bottles of nice red wine which we don't drink at all. These are waiting to go out as gifts or to a raffle:
The above picture speaks for itself, bread things, tins and a few packets, kitchen and toilet rolls. Then into my kitchen, starting with top left cupboards. This one is odds and sods for baking and needs topping up a little:
Middle cupboard, with the spice rack attached to the door. Upside down jars indicate they need filling. Tupperware containers house cereals, rice, pasta, dried fruit etc:
Next, the dehydrated jars and extra dry foods:
Then the corner cupboard, drinks and other odds and sods again. This needs a bit more of a tidy and sort out:
The final top cupboard is jars, packets, tins and more dried goods:
Each month we do a monthly shop (delivered) from a supermarket of anything that is needed to replace things that have run out plus fresh food. Every 10 - 14 days, (depending on how things have lasted), we do a top up of fresh food. Our food bill has slowly dropped by about 20% from last year.

In fact, we are now spending only 15% - 20% more than we did when on war rations during the 1990's! I'm hoping that now we are using a menu this should drop more, or remain the same, as prices continue to rise. That isn't too bad considering the ever increasing price of food. We also have a 3 drawer indoor freezer and a tall unit outside. We could easily live off and empty these cupboards right down for 2 or 3 months if needed but then, it would cost us an arm and a leg to build them back up again.

I finally realised that the system my lovely mother in law used to operate (in her proper pantry under the stairs!), of use one item, buy another but also have one spare actually works.