Monday 30 August 2021

Tea Loaf

This was a Sainsburys recipe (in which we halved the sugar content). It was still too sweet and needed way more liquid than they said. We won't use it again. However, it is okay to eat just not to our taste. I remembered after starting it that I had a far nicer currant loaf recipe, the fruit can be exchanged for what you like so will stick to that:

Wrapped in a piece of my birthday wax wrap:
It will last us a few days at one slice a day.

Sunday 29 August 2021

A stitch in time!

 I have been watching a simple 2" tear in the bedroom net curtain, expand into a 10" one and just done nothing. It was beginning to let the flies in and I hate flies.

Time to pull my finger out. I balanced the area that needed mending on the laundry basket to take the weight from the lead in its bottom hem.

Although a bit fiddly, it took less than 10 minutes and here we are:

Job done and saved us probably around £30 in buying new net. It won't last forever as the sun makes the net weak over time.

Saturday 28 August 2021

Shrinkflation in action

Amongst many other items of note, I was really shocked yesterday. We were out and about and indulged ourselves by buying Jamacian Ginger Cake, to have at home with a cup of tea. Boy has it shrunk:

 It barely measured 3" x 1.75". They used to be twice this big because I remember checking years ago when they were at least 3" x 3".

It is happening to everything, do they think we don't notice? Surely it must be costing the manufacturers an arm and a leg to change their equipment over rather than keep the old sizes and charge more?

It has finally spurred me on to bake our own far more than I usually do. Have you noticed this?

Thursday 26 August 2021

Two is one and one is none!

My MinL was a lovely lady but when I first took note of her pantry, I thought she was a bit overboard. She had two of everything she used and as soon as she started one, it went on her shopping list.

Being young and relatively naive I always assumed you could just go to the shops whenever they were open and thought it a bit of a joke to have a spare of anything. Indeed, when shops were completely closed after 5pm and on Sundays, it proved a bit of a pain if you ran out of anything. Boy, have I changed my thinking.

None of us know what is around the corner be it a pandemic, ill health, terrible weather (an increasing threat), loss of job and/or income. Loss of a partner and potential loss of money because of it, especially if you are living on one wage/pension.

Whilst I got caught out early on in the pandemic by lack of flour, yeast and toilet paper (of all things), I have made up for it.

When I first married, shops just did not operate a 'just in time' policy. They all had large storerooms and even larger warehouses, where many months of food were stored. They had large cool rooms or refrigerated warehouses to keep fresh food fresh, for weeks or even months. Those cool storage warehouses may still be around but long term storage in superstore attached warehouses has gone. The advent of computerized stock taking changed everything. This 'just in time' shopping is impinging globally due to the current pandemic, Brexit for us, resources, cost of transporting and lack of lorry drivers.

It is no use storing items, of food in particular, that have a long storage date, if you don't eat it. Can you make several meals out of what you have or do you have 10kg of pasta and only 2 tins of tomatoes. 

What frozen/canned/dried/home preserved meat, vegetables and potatoes do you have? Corned beef can be added to potatoes and beans for hash. It can be made into a pie if you have flour and fat. We are now stocking tinned steak and tinned chicken (after trying them to check we liked them). We hate tinned potatoes but are fine with Smash, if it is made with hot milk and butter. Tinned fish can be made into 'pies', fish cakes or pasta based dishes.

Do you have cereals, tea and coffee but no milk, sugar or sweetners. It is all well and good having frozen milk in the freezer but if the power went out for a day or longer it would thaw. 

A tip about UHT milk I learnt early on was to step down to get close to the right flavour. For example if you drink whole milk, buy semi-skimmed. If you use semi, buy skimmed. UHT milk by its nature is more creamy.

Puddings such as tinned rice, tapioca, sponges, jelly, tinned fruits etc. Don't forget tinned custard, evaporated milk or long life cream. If you have babies/children, have at least one tin of milk powder if using it, any other packets/tins of food they are eating, nappies and other items. List and rotate everything so they don't go out of date

Create emergency meals occasionally to get older children used to them. It is all very well being a picky eater or living on takeaways but if you can't get out/have a lower than expected income for some reason, those won't be available.

Pets. Do you have spare pet food and anything else they will need. DS and DDiL have a large amount of food put by, rotated so it doesn't expire but they have 4 dogs.

Medications for us and them. We can stock up on over the counter items but prescription items are harder. Try ordering slightly earlier for yourselves each time to see if you can store an extra week or two. 

Petrol/Diesel. Always keep a full tank. Free standing gas heaters/cookers/camping cookers, keep spares if possible. Batteries, you will need more of these than you realise, torches, lights, candles and matches.

I am sure things have been missed here so let me know. Soon for us, winter will be here. Judging by what is happening weatherwise everywhere else, it could be hot, warm, exceedingly wet or freezing. Are you ready?

Wednesday 25 August 2021


DB bit the bullet and sent for a 500 rather than wait forever for a 1000 piece version of the London Underground.

It only took us 2 days on and off and was hard at times but we really enjoyed it:

Tuesday 24 August 2021


Having had a flyer through the letter box, I decided to check out their offers. Today we went and bought a few things:

 2 x 6 packs full sized Magnum at 41p each as opposed to 62p each elsewhere. 60 Cod fish fingers at £9 but equivalent amount would have been £13.50 elsewhere. John West salmon £1.39 instead of £2.95. 2 pork tenderloin fillets each weighing 900g for £8 as opposed to £12.44 for a similar weight. 2 x 500g Quorn pieces for £5 instead of £7.72 for an equivalent weight. 

With a £2 coupon reduction for spending over £25, it came to £26.39 instead of £43.66, a saving of £17.27. We did it as part of our weekly shop and all shops are close to each other so no extra petrol used.

A great bargain in my eyes!

Sunday 22 August 2021


Although it is later than I would like to harvest rhubarb, it was so late getting going I took the chance. I had already frozen about 2lb, this time we got another 4lb for freezing for winter use. 

About 3/4lb was leftover so along with apricots and sugar, it will be turned into a crumble:

 We enjoyed it for tea last night (a tad too much) but it was all we ate...

Saturday 21 August 2021

Courgette Pizza Boats

DDiL cooked us a variation of these on our visit. We all enjoyed them so having been given some courgettes before we visited them, they needed using up.

I gathered all my wrinkly vegetables and roasted them. 1/4 pint of tomato and garlic sauce were added before it was all blitzed to make a vegetable tomato sauce (needs to be quite thick). 

The courgettes were cut in half and had there innards removed (added to the sauce). They were filled and chopped mozzarella placed on top.

It took 25 minutes to cook through at 210C (should have been 220C for 18 - 20 minutes. We quite enjoyed them but decided they needed either a bit of cheddar cheese, bacon or slices of pepparoni as well to pep up the flavour:

All in all a cheap and easy meal.

Friday 20 August 2021

Canned Chicken

 Part of future proofing (prepping) my pantry, is to try new things that store well. We don't seem to have much really good quality canned meat to chose from but I had heard about Marks & Spencer chunky chicken in a cream sauce. At £3.50 for a 375g can, it isn't cheap but we were hoping it would be nicer than far cheaper versions we had tried and disliked. I am very fussy with meat and we won't be buying any minced anything! There were enough chunks for us both, equating to one really good sized breast:

I did add a pinch of dried tarragon and it was served with mashed potatoes and green beans from our garden. We both gave it 8/10. You could drain it and make a small pie, reserving the liquid for gravy. You could maybe adding something else to eek it out, such as chopped ham or mushrooms.

For an emergency meal it would be great. I had just frozen some meat, completely forgetting to keep something back for lunch so it came in handy.


Wednesday 18 August 2021

Seasons are changing...

Being surrounding by farming land, we can see and hear, the farmers hard at work. Cereals and rape seed are currently being harvested. When needed, late into the night, you can hear the combine harvesters working both close by and up to several miles away when the wind is in the right (or wrong) direction.

In just a few short weeks, harvesting other crops such as maincrop potatoes, carrots and sugar beet will begin. Where my sister lives, they grow a lot of cabbage, cauliflower, leeks and onions and are also busy. I think some of it is going to waste as there are neither pickers nor lorries freely available for transport, to deal with it all. Prices are increasing, shelves in shops are getting more and more gaps in them and choice is getting limited.

We had a great time away visiting family. DGD can now walk very well and you can see her trying to fathom out how to walk faster and faster. Still teething bless her. She is generally such a happy little thing, bright as a button, engaged and very endearing. I was a bit worried, due to Covid restrictions last year, that I would find it difficult to bond with her, but not so, thank goodness.

We were out with her for 3 days, visiting interesting places. Two days with DDiL and one with DS. His day involved a long walk, up two very steep inclines. I struggled a bit and his back was feeling the strain of carrying DGD in her back pack.

The journey back home was longer than usual due to a 45 minute traffic jam and a couple of short 10 minute delays. Almost home we had to detour through old roads to avoid another jam.

Two days of washing clothes, berries have been picked but we still haven't caught up. Beans will need picking, blanching then freezing. I must get on with gardening as we are so far behind but it will happen when it happens. We are not too worried about it.

Friday 13 August 2021

Sunday 8 August 2021


I was late sowing the climbing French beans but they are producing well. This is the 2nd or 3rd colander we have processed. Some eaten fresh, the rest frozen for winter:

I think we will get at least another full one or, maybe two but they are beginning to slow down. Our tomatoes are still green so heaven knows how long they will take to go red. Oh for a greenhouse but we just don't have room.

Last year, we were eating our own tomatoes middle of July so it just shows, certainly here, how topsy turvy our weather is this year.

I may have to remove our Cox's Orange Pippin apple tree. It is not healthy, repeatedly covered in wooly aphids despite treatment. It had at least 30 apples on it but as usual, the aphids have caused most of them to fall off. The rest will follow suit soon as they look unhealthy.

Ah well, maybe time for another slight change to what we grow.

Thursday 5 August 2021

At last!

The dress I sent for DGD arrived yesterday. It took 9 days rather than the 1 - 3 days they said. I am just pleased it has turned up.

She will try it on for me on Sunday so I can see how it looks. Like I said before, it is getting close but will still need some more adjustments. 

She wasn't a happy bunny last Sunday so we didn't get to see much of her. She kept crawling off and grumbling.

A top tooth has finally broken through so we hope that is the start of more arriving. Poor girl, so much teething, so few teeth. She has been checked out and they could see them all there, maybe one day she will surprise everyone and wake up with a mouthful - ha!

Like everyone else has said, weeds are bad this year, lots of warmth and rain. I started to water last night as some of the vegetables were not happy. Today we are forecast rain later on so hope it arrives.

Alpine strawberries are producing loads of fruit but it is a royal pain in my back, bending down for so long. Might have to rethink where and how to grow them which won't involve that. 3 smallish bags of mixed beans are in the freezer with quite a few more to come. Lettuces have either finished or are going over. Tomatoes are still green, very behind and not as many as I had hoped.

Not much else to report. See you another day.

Monday 2 August 2021

Shelves up!

My craft room shelves have finally gone up. It has cleared both the work station and most of the additional table in the room:

Once the other table is cleared, I will be able to get out the dining room and back in there.

The shelves are floating ones but put up on normal brackets. One was put up as a trial but within about two hours of putting only half the items on it that I wanted to, it was slipping and tilting forward. Had it been left, it would have come down. So as not to waste it, we bought the additional shelving brackets, plus another shelf. 

Getting there!