Friday, 22 September 2017

Its a Holi Holiday Hurrah

As in the words from the song by Boney M!  Now I am showing my age.

Phew I am now on holiday for the week.  I intend to do nothing this evening apart from flop for a change.  OH has gone fishing so am on my todd.  It is more or less dark here.  I want to do some more research on a couple of things but apart from that I do not intend to do much.  I will have a busy day tomorrow so I think I have earned the chill out time.  Its nice just to potter and do one's own thing.

I have had a few more Kilner jars and Mason jars arrive. I buy these periodically off of Ebay or Amazon.  If you are careful you can pick them up a lot cheaper this way including the carriage charges.   On average in the shops the standard Kilner jar costs £3 apiece with the larger jars going from £3.50 or more for a jar. The standard Kilner jar screw lids and seals will fit Mason jars of the same size which is very handy.  I am stocking up in preparation for using the canner which I have not tried yet.  I need the kitchen sorted before I start dabbling with that so that I can get to things easily; that is one of the aims of this holiday try and get a lot of practical stuff out of the way with, get organised and also get to play with my new machines and possibly the canner.  That's the hope anyway.  You don't get chance to stand still very often here.  I am also realistic to know that I won't get everything done but a large percentage can and should be achieved.

I also have quite a few other bottles and bits and bobs that are to be stored in the shed so I need to get that sorted out as well.  I need to make some room in the freezer so I hope to be doing a lot more cooking from scratch again so that I can restock the freezers in readiness for Christmas.

Today I have also stocked up on some tinned fruit, some tins of strawberries and also some pineapple rings.  We use the pineapple rings when we have gammon steaks but also in stir fries and things like that, so technically they are for the Christmas store but will more than possibly be used before then.  It all tops the pantry up anyway.

Right off to do my research.

Catch you soon.



Thursday, 21 September 2017

It's arrived

My embroidery machine is now home with me.  I have yet to unpack it, which will be sometime over the weekend as I had not realised how big it was (well the box is terribly large).  It is to be based in the computer/craft room, but I need to sort that out from top to bottom and get organised a bit.  I have my other new Janome sewing machine as well to get to grips with.  So I am very much looking forward to some serious play time and hopefully it will start next week.  There are so many lovely patterns on many different sites, but that is half the fun finding something that will look lovely and pretty.  So I am very relieved that it has arrived.  OH will have to bring it upstairs once the room has been bottomed and cleaned.  To tell you the truth I am ever so excited as I did not in my wildest dreams ever really think I would be the proud owner of such a good machine.  Thank you Anne.

So I am now on holiday from tomorrow for a week and I really have got a lot to do.  So many lovely things to potentially have a go at -  a lot of them new crafts to me.  I want to have a go at patchwork.  I have the Accuquilt system to help with the cutting out and to use this I need to have a clear desk.  I have a large computer table/sewing table in the computer/craft room which once clear will be good for using the machines on and also as a cutting table for the Accuquilt.  For cutting out clothes for dressmaking I will need to use the dining room table as it is longer and has more room.  It is certainly going to be a learning curve in the next few months on all fronts.  Its good to learn as it expands your frontiers and you grow as a result.  Now I just have to get my head around things where the embroidery and sewing machines are concerned. I have been warned that the embroidery side of things is very addictive

I have papermaking, card making, Christmas decorations, soapmaking, candlemaking, beeswax polish, patchwork to have a go at as well as all the UFOs lurking in the cupboards.  Now I need to get organised, but am so so pleased that the machine has arrived at long last.  I am so so lucky for which I am very grateful.

Catch you soon.


Preparing for Christmas - Updated Timetable Amendment 1


Things to do

Start to add items to the shopping trolley.  Items with a long stop date.  Even if you do one thing a week it will soon build up and be less to fork out for later on. Take advantage of offers on baking consumables and especially dried fruit.  Especially if you are going to make your own Christmas cake and Christmas pudding.  The more you get your pantry and Christmas items sorted before Christmas (if you can) the more cash you will have to hand to pay for Christmas presents (if not already bought). These days we pay cash for Christmas and do not utilise credit cards.  I appreciate that it is each to their own here but it can get out of hand if you are not careful.

Make your own flavoured sugars.  I make vanilla sugar and use it when I bake in cakes and also decorating the top of and in home-made custard.  It costs about £3 for two vanilla pods and all I do is find a big jar put the sugar in and then push one of the vanilla pods into the sugar it is well covered and then put the lid on and leave it for a few weeks.  Lavender sugar can be made the same way.  To buy it costs an absolute arm and a leg.  You can use caster or granulated.  As the pod is whole you can then use in its own right for egg custard etc.

Buy tinned goods with a long stop date.  Having tinned fruit and beans, tomatoes etc in the pantry gives you a lot more scope,  when it comes to making meals and baking as well.

Don’t forget the freezer stock up there too.

Bottle peaches in syrup.

Bottle pears in syrup.

Spiced Pickled Pears.

Mulled Pears.

Mixed white fruits in syrup.

Mixed red fruits in syrup.

Make home-made pasta sauce.

More Apricot Jam and Apricot Chutney.

Make Five spiced peaches.

Make Chutneys from seasonal ingredients.  Especially peach chutney, use the fruit whilst it is available and does not cost the earth.  Carry forward to September if not available to you at this time.

Make piccalilli.

Take advantage of Victoria plums and bottle some for later use in puddings but also to make some Victorian Sugar Plums for Christmas.

Do pickled onions and shallots. Carry forward to September if not available to you at this time.

Make home-made wines and beers and ciders either from fresh ingredients or kits.


Look out for wild mushrooms especially puffballs they are delicious and can be preserved.

Make Mincemeat from dried fruit that needs using up

Make vanilla caster sugar

Make vanilla granulated sugar

Make cinnamon granulated sugar

Make Cider and Perry

Pickle onions

Pickle Shallots

Pickle Red Cabbage

Pickle Spiced Eggs

Pickle Chillis

Chinese Five Spice Sauce


Brown sauce

Chilli Jam

Chilli Jelly

Sweet Chilli Sauce

Dried Chiilis

Dried Herbs

Make Christmas cakes.

Make Christmas Puddings.

Make Dundee Cake

Bread and Butter Pickles

Various Chutneys

Vanilla Vodka

Spiced Orange Slices and Clementine Slices

Ginger Beer and Apple Pop

Make ginger ice cream topping

Make rum n raisin ice cream topping

Make honey and golden sultana ice cream topping

Hazlenut/Filbert in honey ice cream dressing

Toasted Pecan and honey ice cream dressing

Raspberry fruit Coulis

Strawberry fruit Coulis

Mixed fruit Coulis

Blueberry Coulis

Blackberry Coulis

Passionfruit Coulis

Lemon Syrup

Orange Syrup

St Clement’s Syrup

Lemon and Ginger Syrup

Grapefruit Syrup

Start gathering twigs, larch cones, acorn husks, beech mast, and teasel heads for use in Christmas decorations.  Also honesty.  I always buy nuts at Christmas and if any are left over I keep them and use them in decorations also.  With the aid of a glue gun you can make some very different home made decorations.  I have this year also sourced long sticks of cinnamon which will be turned into Christmas stars.  I also have lots of small cinnamon sticks which are to be turned into some garlands with the addition of bay leaves, dried orange and lemon slices, and nuts.  Also buy star anise in bulk as you can make Christmas table balls by painting a polystyrene ball with gold paint and then sticking whole star anise to the bauble with a glue gun.

Start gathering a few extra items a week and try and take advantage of offers such as two tubs of sweets (i.e. Celebrations, Roses and Quality Street for £9 or £5 each. The Co-Op have said offer on at the moment but there are no guarantees that this offer will stay on until Christmas.  Therefore seize the day. Take advantage if you can or other goodies.  I also use the Pound shop in this respect.  Always check the long stop date.  Often this will go into the New Year say to February or March if not later.

Trial Nan’s fruit bread between 2 recipes

Start collating suitable recipes for Christmas

Start making home-made cards and presents

As you buy presents - if you have the wrapping get them wrapped up one at a time.  Will save time at a future date.

Start looking at Lidl and Aldi and other supermarket sites and start looking for a few bottles of wine here and there.  The reason I mention this is that things notoriously go up in the run up to Christmas, I know there are offers on as well but if you get some of it out the way at a cheaper price then all well and done.  Same with bulky bottles of pop whatever variant.  I notice that Lidl would appear to have some very good offers on sweet ines at the moment.
Sunday 24 September
Start Christmas Cakes and Christmas Puddings 2 for Brother and 2 for us

If you have an open fire and young children in the house.  Make a song and dance about them writing a letter to Santa Claus and sending the messages up the chimney with their wish lists for what they would like or hope for.

Start the kidlets making Christmas decorations from items gathered on walks, from fabric, felt from paper etc.  Start them early as it will take a little time but also keep them occupied and involved.

Make home-made sausage rolls and open freeze them without cooking.  Pack into a suitable number say 12 and bag them.  Then when you want some take out of the freezer and straight into the oven to cook.  This will save time when you have so much else to do.  Same with mince pies and coconut cheesecakes.  Also make some plain pastry cases large for things like Bakewell tart or some smaller cases to be filled with fruit or custard or the like.

Make home-made Pork Pies and freeze uncooked.

Make Home-made feasting pie and freeze uncooked.

Make mince pies and do the same as well as coconut cheesecakes and pastry tart bases for jam tarts filled with your home-made jam.

Make fruit curds.
Sunday 19 November 2017
Make Nan’s Plum Bread Loaves 2 for my brother and 2 for myself
Sunday 26 November 2017
Beginning of December: Post out the Christmas cards and get them out of the way to family and friends.  Get this out of the way together with a personal letter to family members

The week before Christmas say a couple of days make the pork pies, feasting pie, and cook the ham.
The night before Christmas Eve Saturday 23 December 2017
Go to the market and do final shop in town.  Getting the fresh vegetables and other bits from town and any other last minute bits and bobs.

Make up a batch of Hazlenut Liqueur.  This is not a long keeping liqueur a bit along the lines of Egg Nogg.  The recipe for this first appeared in the Land Love Magazine for October 2017.  Which recipe have popped on the blog.  Then sit and enjoy a glass or two.  You are allowed to have fun too.

Make local deliveries of presents to family members near.
Christmas Eve Sunday
24 December 2017
For us mostly a day of preparation.  Traditionally my family or the ladies of the family have always done the big bake for Christmas on Christmas Eve. 

Planning for Christmas 2017 - Updated V1 Stockpile Food Items Bought/Made

Items acquired so far for the Christmas food stash

Pantry Items

bags of sultanas

8 bags of raisins
8 bags of currants
6 pots of cherries
6 pots of mixed peel
2 jars redcurrant jelly (Waitrose own)
2 Jars cranberry jelly (Waitrose own)
2 jars mint jelly
Two bags of whole almonds (needed for Dundee Cake and Christmas cake)
Two bags of ground almonds (these I use a lot of so may add some more bags yet)

I should add that the majority of the above items should take me through to the New Year as the bulk of them are for baking and I do not bake fruit items every week.  I would rather make my own cakes than purchase them.


1 bottle of Delaneys Irish cream liqueur
1 bottle of port special reserve
1 bottle of green ginger wine.

All of the above on offer at the CoOp at present.


Boughten items

2 tubs of Quality Street
1 Pack of Chocolate biscuits
2 packs of After Eight Mints
2 packs of Mint Matchsticks
4 nets of Christmas chocolate figures for the Christmas tree

Items made so far for the Christmas food stash (in no particular order)

Seville Orange Marmalade
Strawberry Jam
Apricot jam
Pickled Onions
Apple Chutney
Apricot Chutney
Plum Chutney
Plum Jam
Plum and Apple Jam
Peach jam
Plum Jelly
Greengage jam
Greengage jelly
Flavoured vodkas: Lemoncello, Mixed fruit, Candy Cane, Peach, Strawberry, Rhubarb, Rhubarb and Strawberry. Spiced Vanilla vodka (for white chocolate cocktail); chilli vodka for home made Bloody Mary; 

Elderberry jelly
Bramble jelly
Rosehip Syrup
Dried Rosehips
Apple Sauce
Bottled Strawberries
Five Spice Peaches
Bottled Peaches
Bottled White Fruit Salad
Bottled Red Fruit Salad
Clementine and Passionfruit Jelly
Mulled Pears
Cherry Brandy
Bottled Cherries
Mixed fruit - Jumbleberry jam
Nuts in Honey
Mixed Fruits in Honey
Herb Butters:
Tarragon vinegar
Raspberry vinegar
Apricot vinegar
Passionfruit vinegar
Blushing Strawberry Wine
Peach Wine
Plum Wine
Orange Wine
Spiced Oranges
Spiced Clementines
Vanilla Caster sugar
Vanilla Granulated sugar
Cinnamon Granulated sugar
Pickled Jalapenos
Dried Chillies

I make the different preserves by choice and they are allowed for in my budget through the year. They have to last a year in any event. When I make a load of preserves like the last couple of months I cut back on items on the general shop.   I tend to bulk buy meat and then freeze it myself in any event usually restock in the quieter months.  We don't eat masses of meat and that we do have is eked out where I can get at least two to three meals from it, but generally we eat relatively well in the greater scheme of things.  By saving here and there means I can squeeze in some extravagances. Hence me buying ingredients and then making stuff myself a lot of the time.  Nothing is wasted though.

Will be updated as soon as more is acquired/prepared.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Memories of Christmas and Chestnuts

When you talk of Chestnuts one of the most immediate views in ones mind's eye is the song Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire made famous by Bing Crosby, A Christmas song and one loved by our family.

Here are the words for those who are already humming to yourself.

The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)"

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire
Jack Frost nipping at your nose
Yuletide carols being sung by a choir
And folks dressed up like Eskimos
Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe
Help to make the season bright
Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow
Will find it hard to sleep tonight

They know that Santa's on his way
He's loaded lots of toys and goodies on his sleigh
And every mother's child is gonna spy
To see if reindeer really know how to fly

So I'm offering this simple phrase
To kids from one to ninety-two
Although it's been said many times, many ways
Merry Christmas to you

So I'm offering this simple phrase
To kids from one to ninety-two
Although it's been said many times, many ways
Merry Christmas
Merry Christmas
Merry Christmas to you

For me this brings back all sorts of memories; being at my Nan's predominantly in front of a blazing fire in the middle of winter and us children being snuggled up near the fire on the floor and the adults full seated, talking, sharing animated.  Very happy days.

In reality however I first came across Chestnuts one Christmas as a little one; we had not been in Peterborough for very long and I was about 7 years of age.  We had been up to the market, it was a Saturday and dad visited the costume jewellery stall that was on the market for quite a lot of years and he bought me and my mother a piece of costume jewellery each.  He bought  my mum a  brooch and he bought me my first brooch and pinned this to my coat.  I felt so grown up.  The brooch was a swirl decorated with highly polished cabochons and small stones that looked like gold but with all sorts of rainbow colours in it.  I still have this although one of the stones has gone missing.

The Sally Army Band was playing as it always did, in the centre of Bridge Street  and it was terribly cold. We have always given to the Sally Army as they do so much good and we would always be handed pennies each to drop into the pot of the collectors. I was wrapped up in my green stripey coat which I loved and with sheepskin mitts a dark brown pair that my Aunty had bought for me and they were cosy, and a thick woollen scarf and hat that my mum had knitted for me.  As usual I was with my Dad and my brother with my mum.  There was a man with a hot brazier selling brown things.  I had not seen Chestnuts before that time and my Dad stopped and bought a bag of the hot Chestnuts and encouraged us both to try them.  I remember that they were hot on the hands as Dad passed me one and I tried it  and I fell completely in love with Chestnuts as I believe did my brother.  From then on in at Christmas time if the Chestnut man was there Dad used to buy a bag and it would be shared between us.  Dad and mum also regaled us with stories of when they were growing up in Lincoln come Christmas and that there would always be a Chestnut man and often he had a Hurdy Gurdy which would also be playing.

Move on quite a few years and I am in Lakeland and they have a Chestnut/Brazier saucepan available.  This is basically a metal pan which looks like a frying pan but has lots of holes in the base. Although it was sold specifically for Chestnuts it can be used for a variety of things. Since then at Christmas I have cooked our own hot chestnuts.  It is quite a few years since this pan was available in the shops but I think it is now back in the stores as I have seen something similar recently and I think it was Lakeland but not absolutely sure.  Hot Chestnuts at Christmas are therefore one of my treats to me along with mulled wine and Gluhwein. Yum  I always buy them in the run up to Christmas and there are all sorts of recipes in which you can use them, my favourites of which I will post shortly.

Do you have memories of Christmas's when you were young?  Look forward to hearing from you with them.

Catch you soon.

Pattypan xx

Wednesday evening catch up

I am back to work tomorrow for a couple of days before then being on holiday for a week.  Hopefully I will also be able to bring my embroidery machine home as well as some other bits and bobs that I have acquired just recently.  I really am looking forward to getting to grips with this and then hopefully being able to produce some lovely pieces of work by way of presents for Christmas and birthdays; even if it is only simple things to start with will be a big improvement on what I am able to produce in the limited time I have at the moment. I still have ideas of what I want to do and what I would like to achieve and whether it is because I have slowed up as I have got older but things seem to be taking an age to do by hand.  I do prefer doing handcrafted embroidery items and cross stitch and other crafts like ribbon weaving and I also have the patchwork to get to grips with as well as kits part started and not yet completed.  Now the darker nights are here I am going to try and get myself sorted out a little more, like perhaps having a scratch tea one night and then have an evening of crafting and another night embroidery machine and then perhaps do stuff for preserving, the freezer etc.  Might make more of my time that way on and then maybe a night on the computer etc.  Just a thought at the minute but I think it could be effective.

With the autumn and winter nights I can load the slow cookers and then switch them on low and then get OH to finish off things when he comes home after walking the dog that way on we should be able to get tea fairly quickly and then load the dish washer up and then get prepped for the next day as well.  Good simple meals like Toad in the hole, liver and onion casserole (I have been craving this the last week or so), cottage or shepherd's pie, Suet Crust Steak pudding, Treacle Sponge, Eve's pudding, Lemon Meringue pie, Streudel, home made rice pudding etc.

As Saturday is one of my main shopping days, I thought that in the afternoons after the shopping is sorted  I might do some meal prepping for the week and also a little baking "something for the tins" and the pack ups during the week and maybe also some cake to take in for tea breaks for both our works.  At the moment I want to make a couple of chicken pies and also a couple of steak pies  to pop into the freezer and make a nice hot meal with a bit of veg for during the week.  Its a long time since I have made them and with cooking quite extensively the past week or so which I have enjoyed immensely I really do want to get back into the swing of things and get back to my roots which is simple family plain cooking the sort that is good for you in the long run.  I don't pretend to be anything else.  I am not so good on the presentation side but as long as it is tasty that is all I am concerned about at the end of the day.

I have had a reasonably lazy day for me today. It started off with Missy cuddling into bed with me and getting herself comfy whilst I was out of it.  When I woke she looked so cute that I decided to take a photo of her to pass on to OH.  She promptly growled at me turned round in a huff she was obviously having a Marlene Dietriech moment in that she wanted to be alone!  As the other half said she cannot cope with the Paparazzi. I have been called some things in my time!

I have been researching recipes, reading books, checking out some machine embroidery sites, writing some posts possibly for the future, walking the dog with OH, oh and dreaming; there always has to be room for dreaming; dreaming in a round about way starts to set your intent for the future.  Mine is not to work and be comfortably off so that I do not need to, and to have like a smallholding with a lovely big house and room for growing veg, having orchards, nuttery, fruit garden etc and to be as self-sufficient as I can with a few chickens, somewhere in the countryside the dream is down to Cornwall but in reality I do not know whether this will happen or not.  Its something to aim for anyway and something to keep me on course.  Everyone has got to have a dream something to reach for something out of the ordinary.

Right had better get a wriggle on.

Catch you soon.



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)