Monday 31 October 2016

Gooseberry and Apple Jam

I thawed 1lb of gooseberries, grated 1/2lb of cooking apple and simmered them for a few minutes to soften before adding sugar and about a tablespoon lemon juice.

Once the sugar had melted, the mixture was boiled until setting point was reached, before potted into two steralized jars:
Such a lovely colour and so nice to see the gooseberries holding some shape!

Friday 28 October 2016

Blackberry and Apple Jam (not jelly)

Using this recipe, I made up half a batch. I think I used just a little too much water as it took an age to get down to the correct consistency. I would recommend just covering the blackberries with water, chopping the whole apples quite small and just putting them on top. That way, you won't add too much water.

Other than the long boil time, it looked and smelled wonderful. Sieving the stewed fruit to remove the pips and rubbish took about 15 minutes as you really need to make sure as much fruit pulp is squished through the sieve as possible before measuring and adding sugar. There really shouldn't be much rubbish left in the sieve.

Anyway, this is how much I got from the half batch:
3 x 1lb jars!

Have a lovely weekend everyone!

Thursday 27 October 2016

Home made mincemeat

Welcome to Samantha Pugliesi via here.

We always use Delia Smith's recipe, swapping nuts and dried fruit depending on what we have in the pantry. DS hates dried peel so I always pick that out of the dried fruit mix when I use it. Sometimes it is made up with various other fruits such as sultana's, cranberries, apricaots etc. The recipe is freely available online.

Here is half a batch, made up and left to steep for 12 - 24 hours:
After it has been in a low oven to melt the suet:
Put into steralized jars:
The one on the right is now in the fridge ready for use, simply because I didn't have enough to fill it to keep long term.

Tuesday 25 October 2016

Green Tomato Chutney

There were also enough green tomatoes to make one batch of this chutney, again, recipe written out by my father in law, in capitals, to help out his wife whose eyesight was beginning to fade:
This amount made 2 1/2 jars:
I used 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper rather than the 1/2 dessertspoon as I wanted it less spicy.

Monday 24 October 2016

Red Tomato Chutney

Welcome to Bern Mill via here and Michelle McShane via Bloglovin.

Our neighbours have been away and were inundated with tomatoes so asked us to help ourselves. To be honest, the tomatoes were getting a bit past it due to the cold night, the slightest touch on some of the plants and the tomatoes threw themselves to the ground! However, we never look a gift horse in the mouth.

I managed to find enough good red ones to make 1/3rd of this chutney recipe. I don't know where the recipe is from but my father in law had written it out for his wife so here it is:

 Hope you can read it. I got just about 2 jars:

Friday 21 October 2016


Welcome to Margaret Halz via here.

Changed our shopping day to today as DB had to go and pick up some new spectacles. He had dropped and driven over his last pair whilst on holiday - like you do!

Certainly a lot of Halloween, Bonfire and Christmas items appearing now. We buy just one or two extra German items for Christmas such as Stollen and Lebkucken and that is about that on the 'sweet' things.

I have enough ingredients now to make a half batch of mincemeat - can't abide the bought stuff, way to sweet - plus one or two different types of green tomato chutney. I will also have to bake GF bread sometime over the weekend as we are nearly out of it. Again, don't like the bought stuff - a bit too dry - but although my home made version is softer and far less dry, it doesn't always work and I can't fathom out why. Ah well.

That's it for now folks, have a lovely weekend!

Thursday 20 October 2016

Autumn Muffins GF or not...

You can use this link here for a version of this recipe. I increased and exchanged the flour for 9oz of gluten free into which was added one teaspoon xanthum gum and two teaspoons baking powder. Next, the nuts were exchanged for sultana's, white sugar was used, then I added a teaspoon of mixed spice and topped them with a grating of marzipan.

They were baked at 180C for 25 minutes:

There was a little mixture left over so the marzipan was stirred into the cake mixture to make two smaller ones.

I'm sure the dried fruit could be swapped out for chopped walnuts, just think Autumn and the world is your oyster. They are not the same texture of regular flour but not too bad. The marzipan topping was very sticky the next day but all in all, a good trial.

Wednesday 19 October 2016

Chutney and Marmalade

This year seems to have run away with us. I think it might be due to the summer well and truly spilling far into autumn. Barely a preserve/jam has been thought about let alone made:(

My neighbour has been away and asked us to pick as many of his tomatoes as we wished, which we did, and I made chutney with them, more about that another day.

Today though, I decided to make plum and date chutney, the recipe for which is not freely available on the internet though there are similar ones available. As such, I prefer not to  print it due to possible copyright issues.

I only had enough for half the recipe:
I also made some whisky marmalade (the two on the left) and some orange and ginger marmalade (the three on the right):

Tuesday 18 October 2016

Flu Vaccine

Firstly, welcome to Wendy Steinley and Julia Douglas via here.

I was last innoculated again any type of flu when I worked in a school some 10 years or so ago. Having had flu once, I hope to never get it again. Whilst the vaccine is not 100% effective, it is better than catching the flu, believe me.

Every year, the vaccine contains different strains of flu that the WHO (World Health Organisation) has decided, is most prevalent for that year.

The 2016/2017 vaccine, for the northern hemisphere, contains protections against these strains of flu:

An A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus;
An A/Hong Kong/4801/2014 (H3N2)-like virus;
A B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus:

As I am not currently entitled to a free vaccine, I went into one of the larger supermarkets that have a pharmacy in them and asked for one. I had to fill out a form, they then took me into a private room where I was asked allergy questions, then I had the shot.

Never having had one of these mini already filled syringes, I didn't know what to expect. DID NOT FEEL ANYTHING!

So for those of who who don't like needles, don't be worried:)

We paid £7 for it and other than a slight ache in my hips, I feel fine, no other side effects whatsoever.

Monday 17 October 2016

Blackberry Booze

After I had picked the last few blackberries from the garden, there were just enough to fill a jam jar. Sugar was then tipped over them before the jar was filled with a mixture of 2/3rds vodka and 1/3rd brandy - leftover drinks from old bottles!

It was shaken every day for a few days until the sugar was dissolved then hidden under the sink, in the dark, to age a little.

After about 5 weeks, the brambles were strained out using a sieve and piece of muslin. We ate those over two days on top of porridge/cereals. The liquid was put into a small glass bottle:
A lovely colour and taste (very strong) even though some of the light isn't shining through due to the old label still being on the other side:)

Sunday 16 October 2016

Congratulations Andy

You are the man! Just won the Shanghai Masters Open Final for the third time, equalling Novak!

Friday 14 October 2016

Twits redeemed!

Following on from a previous post entitled 'twits', published on the 5th of October, we have redeemed ourselves!

After not being able to close the wood burner door after changing the seal (and using the proper seal), we thought we would have to fork out to buy another one. DB was studying the door a few days later and realised that the door hinges and catch were held in place by screws and nuts.

Ah ha thought he, wonder if I can spray them all with WD 4*, unswcrew them slightly until the door shuts properly, then tighten them up again. This he did and low and behold, the door now shuts.

We take the possibility of escaping carbon monoxide very seriously, so checked the seals/door shuts completely. We held a piece of paper inbetween the door seal and the main body of the burner, on all four sides of the door. When the door is closed, you should not be able to easily pull the paper out.

On three sides we couldn't but could at the bottom. A little more adjustment and everything was fine. To be on the safe side, we also have a carbon monoxide detector in the room:)

Have a lovely weekend everyone!

Thursday 13 October 2016

Holiday House

Our holiday house faced onto its own beach on the Solway Firth. It was very nice apart from mice/rats in the attic which disturbed us during the night. Also, the heating/hot water was in one of the bedrooms and kept occupants in that bedroom plus the adjoing one, awake when it came on in the mornings. We had no control over either so couldn't switch them off:(

Other than that, a great place, uber quiet:

It had its own foreshore:


Wednesday 12 October 2016

Grand Dogs ...

Thought I would show you two out of the three new coats the dogs have received. Someone DDiL knows, makes them. Herewith Master L's:
Now Miss S:
Miss M was still being hosed down after a long swim in the sea so she wasn't wearing hers but couldn't miss her out:
She was mighty glad to be towel dried and then have it on - bless her.

Miss S., often wanders off during the evening and she can always be found gazing out of any low level window or door, same on holiday:

Tuesday 11 October 2016

Scotch Eggs ...

When I posted the other day about making a few multi meat and vegetable Shepherd's Pies, I mentioned half the meat had been kept back for another meal. Well, I made two enormous Scotch Eggs:

These gave us two snacks each as they were two large to eat both at one meal. Different in taste, a cross between a Scotch Egg and a Pork Pie!

Monday 10 October 2016

Master L ....

Welcome to Felicity Parsons and Jada Pfeifer via here and Sharon Houghton via Bloglovin.

Poor Grand Dog Master L.

A while ago, we went on holiday with DS, DDiL and our 3 Grand Dogs, Miss S., Miss M and said Master. On one of our smaller walks, we went along an old railway track, and were heading to see where one of the bridges had been washed away in a previous storm.

Miss S., decided to investigate a drain, landing on a leaf covered grill and one of her back legs went through and she limped for a little while. Before we got to said bridge, Master L. disappeared from view and was promptly whistled to come back. Being a Labrador, he did so at very high speed by the sound of him (he was out of view at this stage).

The next thing we heard was a twang and a serious, gut wrenching scream from him. DDiL ran down the slope to find him and he returned with blood pouring from his mouth. Although we don't know, we think he ran into a wire fence.

Anyway, being in the middle of nowhere and needing a vet urgently, we had to walk back as fast as possible to get a signal which on another bridge DS eventually located. As such things go, an internet search found only one vet remotely near, phone call was made only to find they were closing in 10 minutes so after a long conversation, they referred us to their other practice which was a 25 minute drive away.

We still had 2 miles or so left to walk so set out as fast as we could all manage including Master L, who was slightly dazed by now. He did so well bless him, still bleeding heavily, teeth and gum hanging out the front of his mouth, cuts on his nose and head.

After what felt like forever, we eventually got back, drove to the vets and they admitted him straight away for surgery and he was to stay in overnight. Next morning we had to drive a lot further from our base house to pick him up. He came out like nothing had happened. He had lost two bottom right front teeth, see picture:
He also had a small fragment of jaw put back in, and gum stitched back into place. He had a slight scalping to the top of his head but they said that would be okay:
All in all, a rather lucky escape, could have been his nose or eyes that got damaged. Oh, did we mention, Miss M was on heat!

Sunday 9 October 2016

Well done Andy

On winning your first China Open title in Beijing. Commiserations to Johanna Konta on being second in the same tournament. You played really well but Aggie was very good.

Friday 7 October 2016

Bathing back then ...

First of all, welcome to Leslie Walker.

Having a bath with no bath product in it and using soap, which left a horrid dirty tide mark which took some cleaning when the bath was emptied, especially if it had not been cleaned for a while. I had many baths like that, but eventually could afford bath cubes. These softened the water and made it very slippery. You had to be very careful when getting out to not slip or fall, which I did quite often.

On the bathing subject, when I lived with one of my sisters, they didn't have a bath and once a week, we would take ourselves of to a public bath house. I think we paid 10p for a bath cube and 50p for a bath. You got a towel and a little cubicle where you undressed to have a private bath. You could use as much hot water as you like although you had to get out onto a wooden duck board which housed goodness knows what germs.

The towels were usually very hard and scratched but at least you were clean for another week. Obviously, we strip washed every day inbetween. I don't think our hair appreciated being washed in the water and it cost even more to hire a hairdryer off them, so usually we walked home with wet hair drying in the breeze. Hardy souls really in those days.

When my nephew was a baby, my sister had a huge square washing machine which she filled with buckets of hot water from the immersion tank. It had a manuel mangle attached to it for wringing out the clothes which you did after they had been washed in the soapy water. They sat in an iron bath tub thing until all the clothes were washed. Then the machine had to be emptied. Luckily it had a drain tap on the front so back it came into buckets to go down the sink.

Then it was filled up again with rinsing water and the whole wash rinsed, not once but twice. Emptying out inbetween each rinse. Finally, it was emptied and put away and the washing, still very damp, went out onto the line. You really had to know the weather and when to do this otherwise it meant drying indoors which was awfully steamy for hours. Anything with buttons on had to be folded so as not to break them as they went through the mangle. Eventually she got a twin tub, so much better.

His nappies were the last to go in each time, coming from being soaked in the nappy bucket. They eventually invested in one of these. It cost a lot to run and by the time the nappies were dry they came out shaped like a tight U, very, very hard. Poor kid but that was what you had to do. Line drying was not only cheaper but they were slightly softer. However, he did get to use of the the early Paddi Pad nappies, see here.

That is it for this week, have a great weekend and hope you have some good memories to share.

Thursday 6 October 2016

Days of old...

First of all, welcome to Chris West.

A couple of weeks ago after our walk, we were having a cup of tea with T., and the subject came up about dentists. It led to all manner of discussions.

She is almost two generations younger than her fellow walkers and was astounded at some of the things she heard!

For example, cleaning our teeth with Gibbs standard dentifrice - see link here.

I used that until I was 16 when I could finally spend my first salary on 'proper toothpaste'. From what I remember, you had to wet your brush, scrub it hard onto the tablet to pick up sludge, then scrub your teeth - it was not pleasant:(

Izal medicated toilet paper, a hard paper, similar to tracing paper, impregnated with Izal disinfectant, shiny on one side, less so on the other. Same paper at school and in public toilets. Much discussion per toilet visit on whch side gave you the best dry, usually neither, see here. I believe you can still buy this today in some places, although apparently, it is no longer manufactured?

She was further astounded by the fact not many people had indoor toilets! At my sisters house the toilet was outdoors. It did have soft paper but this was often damp. When we ran out, squares of newspaper were an absolute emergency use:( I still remember cutting up the squares and putting them onto a sharp hook.

There was no electricity in the toilet so we used a torch. If the batteries had gone on it, there was a candle and box of matches in the kitchen. The toilet was about 15 feet from the back door. In winter it was freezing cold, full of spiders and other creatures.

Trying to keep a candle alight in the wind, whilst walking over the concrete path from the back door to the wooden toilet door, was nigh on impossible so it was always advisable to take the matches with you. Woe betide though, if you forgot to bring them back in for the next person, when you had finished. In the depths of winter, the water froze and you couldn't flush.

Eventually they bought a little mini paraffin heater. This helped enormously to stop you and the water freezing, but didn't smell very nice. It also encouraged more creatures to come in!

They eventually moved into a bigger house, slightly more upmarket, which had a full indoor bathroom. Yeh!

More tomorrow!


Wednesday 5 October 2016


We sent for some rope seal, from a different place to normal, to replace the old rope in the door of the woodburner. We have waited all through summer to do this job as you need to be able to light the woodburner to set the seal.

We made sure we ordered the correct version, and DB set about putting in the glue then the rope. It looked a little proud, which it usually does, so we thought nothing of it. The fire was laid and set alight then we tried to close the door - and couldn't.

Maybe it was brain freeze that stopped us thinking to check the door would shut before lighting but we have never had to do it, it has always closed:(

The first lighting of the woodburner always produces a smell, so we had planned on going out once it had calmed down, for a quick walk. Obviously no doing.

Trying to hold the door as closed as possible to stop the smoke coming out, was an interesting task. Luckily only a very small test fire had been lit and within 20 minutes, it was dying out. Phew!

Now to get some more rope from our usual place.

Tuesday 4 October 2016

Multi Shepherd's Pie

One of the things I love about blogs, is the snippets of information you can read that spark off an idea.

In this case, it was Rhonda on the Down to Earth blog, talking how to get vegetables into adults and children who aren't too keen on the whole idea see here.

First of all, I wanted to mix meats so I used 400g of stewing beef, plus a combination of 400g of pork and 100g of streaky bacon, all minced together. I removed half the pork/bacon mixture as I wanted to test another recipe. The other half was added to the beef with a whole minced onion.

This mixture was fried until slightly brown before a generous dash of Worcestershire sauce was added. In a larger pan, I add 8 diced small mushrooms, 3 diced medium carrots (from the garden), and a whole diced red sweet pepper:
The meat mixture was added, along with a can of chopped tomatoes. The pan was then topped up with boiling water until the mixture was just covered, then simmered for 30 minutes:

Once ready, a 1/4 bag of Quorn mince, two good handfuls of peas and the same of sweetcorn were added, along with two pork stock cubes and one beef one. Two tablespoons of tomato puree were added and the pan simmered for another 5 minutes.

Three ladlefuls of the mixture were drained through a sieve (keeping the gravy) and placed into three enamel and one casserole dish:

The remaining gravy:

was divided into three (not quite enough for all four but no doubt I can save some gravy in future for that one), cooled and frozen.

I cooked one large sweet potato in a pan and enough normal potatoes in another pan. Once cooked, they were mashed seperately, then mixed together, before being added to the top of each dish:
When cold, they will be covered and frozen for later use. Once thawed (along with some gravy), a generous grating of cheese will be added to the top before being heated in a 200C oven for 30 - 40 minutes. Yum.

So then, four different meats, counting the Quorn, 10 different vegetables counting the tomato puree.

Obviously if those you cook for don't like vegetables so much, grate or blitz them before adding to the meat of your choice and darken the gravy to hide them more. Normal potato rather than a mixture would also be a good alternative. You can of course, add whatever and however much vegetables you want, depending on what you like and the season you are in.