Saturday, 22 July 2017

Saturday Evening Round up

Last night we had gentle rain and it was wet when I got up this morning.

I had a bit of a lay in this morning and rested my foot some more and it is a lot comfier than it was.

The day then started with bathing the dog.  She gets a yeast infection in her skin which flares up every so often so we have to regularly bathe her with a specific product which costs £30 from the vets.  It does last a while but in the summer she tends to be worse so we end up bathing her more. (I suppose the nearest to it in human terms is psoriasis - which gets worse with the heat).   She is usually quite good when it comes to a bath as long as OH is not around if he is there she misbehaves but when he is not she is as good as gold.  However I always get a good shake from her as she shares the love around and drenches me in the process. Lovely that she is.

We have had brunch instead of breakfast (it was gone 12 before I even decided); egg and bacon with fresh bread and butter and fresh pressed orange juice.  Simple but it went down very nicely.  I have being doing battle royal with the kitchen and it is not going well.  Its monthly scrub out time.  I clean every week but with me working full time I do the good scrub out as well just to make sure everything is really clean.  I  have also done a couple of simple things with  things for the Putdown.  You will have to wait and see..

I also went to the veg shop and bought some large lemon/limes (they could be either they are multi-coloured).  I have some more Strawberries and some peaches and more rhubarb and apples. and pears  I have plans for these as well.  I have some more chillies and tomatoes as you can never have too much pasta sauce or dried chillis.  Time for the roasted pasta sauce I think.   I have onions, basil, leeks and tomatoes in.  Just need to roast it all in the oven with some fresh herbs and then when it is cooked I pop it into the food processor and whizz it up. It is then decanted into sterilised jars some lemon juice popped into each jar and then hot water bath processed.  I have been making this for the past 9 years or so. This is not a smooth sauce like a ketchup or a passata and is nothing like bought pasta sauce as that has a lot of other flavours and sugar added.  I use this for lasagne and as a pasta sauce and often pep the flavours up when I come to use the sauce so please bear this in mind. However we do like it there are no nasties in there and its all good food.

I also have raspberries, blueberries and strawberries that I picked up quite cheaply.  They may go into a jumbleberry jam.

So not too bad a day although I always think by the time you get into a weekend its time to get ready to go back to work.  It would be nice one day if I did not have to and was able to do a lot of the things that I like doing when I want.

It started raining here again about 3:55pm - we need it or the gardens do.  We had a heck of a thunder storm during the week.  It was lightning all the previous evening and then in the early hours there was quite a lot of thunder clapping.  Guess who slept through it.  

I am ummhing and ahhing about a sewing machine at the moment.  I have seen a Janome which has a hundred or so stitches.  A really good solid basic machine which from what I have seen looks relatively easy to use. 

I have also been hanging my nose over an embroidery machine. I haven't got a lot to spend either so I am thinking go for the good all rounder and then when I can afford it and I get back into using the sewing machine again maybe then go for an embroidery one.  I have been thinking about making  my own clothes again as well as using for patchwork and other associated projects.  I love making things and I like to play.  Am still in the process of deciding.  Ideally I would like an all singing all dancing but as I don't really know what their capacity is and what I can do with them I am very much erring on the side of caution at the  moment. (besides the fact I cannot afford that sort of money at the moment)  anyone have any ideas or information as to where I can find out more.  It is a considered purchase and yet again I really want to get it right.  I have in the past bought things and then outgrown them pretty quickly which mistake I am hoping not to repeat here or have ended up buying something that I really did not want as it was the only one affordable at that particular time.  I would rather save up and get what I am really after but equally I need to know the potential of the machine.

Janome DKS100 Sewing Machine

I am also hanging my nose over a pressure canner.  Yet again don't really know which one to go for.  The Presto or the All American.  The Presto seems to be more prolific and more parts seem to be available but the All American looks sturdier.  Not sure.  Don't want to make a mistake it is a lot of money.  It is about the only piece of preserving equipment I have not got so do want to get it right.  Yet again a considered purchase.  That when bought would be most of the major pieces of equipment to hand which would give me so much more choice.  I am particularly interested in canning soups and meat as well as a lot of other things as well.  Will most definitely need a bigger pantry then.  Any ideas or anyone have any input to give.  Be pleased to hear.

The Presto

Product Details

Or The All American

Product Details
However I did drop lucky this morning at the Charity Shop a set of three extremely large cooking pans the type that you get in an Indian Kitchen when they are preparing for a party.  They are very big.  As I am considering having  a go at beer brewing in the future thought that these might be helpful in this regard and for other things as well.

I also managed to find a glass butter dish for £1; so I bought it as a spare just in case I need it in the future.  I had a right song and a dance finding the last one.  I also bought a Green Dawn Pitcher type jug and bowl.  Thought that they would be ideal for puddings i.e. a custard jug and a cold pudding dish.

Also whilst I was mooching about the Internet it looks as though a new book is going to be released on the preserving front by Kilner on 10 August 2017.

Apparently it has over 100 recipes in.  Might be worth having a look at.

Right things to do  - better get a wriggle on.

Catch you soon.



Soap, Scents and Shells

Something to lift the mood when days are a little monotonous and your mood is down.

I think basically I am an old fashioned type of girl.  I like traditional scents like, rose, lily of the valley, lavender etc.  For many years I have not used soap on my face choosing to use just nice hot water and a good mosituriser.  Recently however this has changed as I was in Holland and Barrett and they had an offer on some prettily packaged soap.  I bought it home not expecting much of it and it is one of the loveliest soaps I have come across.  It is beautifully scented and the scent lasts even after constant use.  Very much a ladies soap but very lovely.  I have also found it recently in different scents in Clintons card shop

I first came across some nice soap as a teenager when away on holiday and the company who produced it were called Crabtree and Evelyn.  I bought two bars of soap one was called Tudor Rose and the other Damask Rose and oh they were lovely.  In fact I did not use the soaps but kept them in my undie drawer and for many years they scented my undies.  I think they may still be there somewhere not too sure.  Its what ladies used to do then.  Quite often as well little gifts were made out of a nice soap and some pins and coloured raffia to make a little ornament/useful clothes scenter for the drawers.  In my time I have made these but gave most of them away as pressies.  Lordy I am showing my age.

I have also recently found some lovely soaps at TK Maxx as well.

These are the soaps that I am talking about:

I personally love these soaps to bits.  I can only speak as a I find.

However I have found that when I am down colour can help lift my mood and lovely scents do as well.  Just something we can do for ourselves when the days are appearing grey and a little down.  I wish you could smell their lovely scents.

I have a basket in the bathroom where I keep all my lovely pieces of soap and bubble bath etc.   I suppose its more a ladies pamper basket as there is always something to find in there as I tend to buy little bits and pieces when I see them and then add to the basket.  It is as short as it is long as soon as I have used one another one has gone in to replace it.

I also keep a jar of shells in the bathroom all different colours, all sun washed but very natural.  They are kept in a large square glass vase and every so often I run the shells through my hands and they remind me of hot long days on the beach in a very British Summer and its then that I yearn to be down on the coast again.  Happy days wandering around rock pools and of course picking up pretty shells and pebbles.

Its funny how simple things can bring the most pleasure.

Catch you soon.



Friday, 21 July 2017

Thank God Its Friday

Its been a turbulent week here at work and at home.  The car went in for a service the other day and was not ready by the time I left work.  My foot had been aching most of the day and because OH was not around and it was late when I found out he could not pick me up rather than calling a taxi I walked home and I think I did a little too much.  The following morning my foot was complaining dreadfully and was swollen and I was hopping about just a little bit.  Yesterday was a bit easier but I fell asleep on the sofa and did not wake up until gone 11 I had crashed out.  The only good thing about this was that I had rested my foot and today it has been a lot lot better.  So am getting there.  I didn't get my lunch until late today as too much work on the system but went later in any event as I needed some fresh air.  It was good to get out.

I am therefore looking forward to being home for the weekend.

It started with a walk, taking Missy for her constitutional down near the river; and there we came across a butterfly sunning itself in all its glory.  Lovely sight to see.

I am lucky I did not chase it off with my shadow.  When you see lovely natural  things like this makes you realise just how good life is.

I spotted elderberries starting to come out tonight and I mean black berries.  The brambles are starting to fruit and I nicked one and a week on and they are starting to ripen and they don't taste too bad.  So may have to go out on a recce over the weekend.

I had hoped OH would go fishing so that I could get on with some craft work done.  Its ages since I have had the opportunity to do any.  Never mind hopefully soon.  I am one of these people who don't mind my own company and often quite happy being so.  Although we all need to be around people at times.

Right let the weekend begin.

Catch you soon.



Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Where has this evening gone

I haven't managed to get much done this evening.  I had some financial matters to take care of and instead of taking a short time it has taken over 2 1/2 hours to sort out.  I haven't even got into the garden this evening.  So have not had any chill out time.  Things have been frustrating at work as well.  Oh well tomorrow is another day. Its just the depth that varies.

I nipped to the shop at dinner time as I needed some comfortable shoes to wear to work that looked reasonably smart.  I have ended up with two pairs of mule type shoes  which I think will be ideal in the long run.  They even have a little bit of a heel.  I just needed something that was not enclosed yet would still give support to my feet.

I think there is going to be a storm.  Every so often I can see sheet lightning in the distance so even if we do not get it per se it is certainly circling.  

Don't like storms.  Too much electricity in the air.

Right short and sweet tonight have to get the animals fed and then off for an early night.

Catch you soon.



Pickled Beetroot a good First Pickle

It occurred to me after posting the other day that I had  been speaking about what I had been up to but had not really passed on any recipe that I use and which I have found to be successful.  I also suggested that if you were going to start your preserving journey it may well be best to start with something like pickled onions or pickled beetroot and then work your way up.

Here is the recipe I use for home made pickled beetroot.  If you don't grow your own fresh beetroot has been readily available (well it has round here) to buy and then process.  Homemade beetroot to my mind is a lot tastier.

The thing with beetroot is not to damage the tap root (the bit that comes out of the bottom) and not to trim too much down on the leaf end say to about an inch otherwise the beetroot will bleed and lose all its colour which is not what we want.  It will bleed anyway (but not as much as without the top or the root) so extreme care must be taken when handling the same.  Once cooked the tap root will rub off as will the top but I suggest that you wear a pinny or coverup and also marigolds or disposal gloves to save your hands and everything else being badly stained.  

Well here's the recipe:

The beetroot can be cubed or sliced or if you grow your own tiny baby beets can be used.

1kg/2lb uncooked beetroot
5ml/1tsp sea salt
1.15 litres/2 pints white wine vinegar (I have in the past used brown malt vinegar) but the spirit vinegar gives a classier look to it).

1.  Wash the beetroot taking care not to damage their skins, root or tops.

2.    Put the beetroot into a large heavy based saucepan (I use the bottom of my pressure cooker as it is both and have in the past pressure cooked the beetroot).  Cover with the water add some salt and simmer covered for about   1/1/2 to two hours or until the beetroots are tender.  Leave the beetroots in the pan they were cooked in to cool.

3.  When the beetroot is cool I peel them in the sink and then slice, dice or use the baby beetroot and decant into previously sterilised jars (just because you are using vinegar you still need the same sterilising standards as for any other preserve).  Do not forget to wrap and dispose of the spent skins and roots into the dustbin and make sure you clear any spills as you don't want purple this and purple that for the next few days.

4.  Put the vinegar into a pan and bring to the boil.  Pour the boiling vinegar over the beetroot to cover it by 1.25cm/ 1/2 an inch.  Gently tap the jars to remove any air pockets or insert a knife into the jar which does the same moving it around the jar.  Remove once you are satisfied there are no air bubbles.

5.  Seal the jars and label.  Keep in a cool dark place for about three weeks before using to allow the flavours to develop.

Makes about 3 x 300ml/10 fl oz jars).

Serve with salads, or a cheeseboard or meat board with other pickles.

That's it, you have made your first pickle.  Feeling proud of yourself.  You should be.

Catch you soon.



Monday, 17 July 2017

Ache or What

After yesterdays mammoth gardening session I have found bits of my body I never knew existed.  My hands are particularly sore with all the tugging and pulling out of brambles and weeds.  All day I was out there.

Needless to say there has been a lot of ouch moments today everytime I have moved which has been quite a lot but there we are these things are sent to try us.

You can just see a glimpse of the jungle and the old fridge that is to be taken away.  Yesterday you could not get down this side of the shed.  The tomatoes are hiding behind the shed and at least they seem to be recovering.

This is it tidied and the herb troughs in place.   There is thyme, Greek Basil, Genovese Basil, a standard Rosemary one of two The planters to the top left of the picture will not be  staying here they will be going further down the garden in due course.

Since getting home this evening, we had planned to go to the tip and get rid of the rubbish but OH had managed to do this before picking me up so after some tea I have been able to get out into the garden again for another pulling up session and sorting out of rubbish.  I aim to do some each night so that I am getting rid of the weeds and  getting the new plants sorted.  I am pleased to say that my tomato plants have recovered and I have four cucumbers.  Three of them only littlies and this one which is still little in the greater scheme of things but I think it is a small version cucumber in any event.  Do not know the variety unfortunately but reminds me of Petitia.  It has little prickles on the outside skin.  Its not the prettiest looking specimen but it is a cucumber and I have grown it.

My frog is okay he leaped up the garden as I was Watering up.  I have given everything a good drench again.

It looks as though I may have found the hosepipe two long lengths of it.  Just need to get the fittings sorted and a couple of attachments to help with the watering up and that should save the effort with the watering can.  At least if I have the hose and I need to use the watering can for feeding etc. the watering can, can be filled up outside rather than at the kitchen sink.

The garden had got weedy and overgrown again but I have managed to clear quite a bit more tonight.  Its the brambles that cause the most problem.  I was wearing a pair of marigolds with a pair of leather working gloves (welding gloves) and I was still getting caught by the prickles  Fortunately I had a long pair of loppers so cut the brambles into smaller bits.  When I dig the garden I shall remove the offending roots from the brambles and other weeds.

OH has officially given me carte blanche to do what I will with what was in his shed.  That's easy then to the dump it is to go.  I can see that with the amounts of pots that are in good condition that I will be having a marathon cleaning up session later in the week once I have got more clearing done.  That's the sort of job that can be done anytime but the clearing and weeding does take some time.  I am determined to get it as clear as I can or at least the recreational area as I want to get  the gazebo up and the barbecue and pizza oven in use.  Hopefully I will get some slabs down too and then I am hoping to create a small veg patch at the end.  The greenhouse needs some serious work but once I have the main section cleared I will then be able to tackle that.  I am determined that my greenhouse is going to be back in use for next year.

Right had better get a wriggle on I have work in the morning and I need to get one or two things ready before collapsing in bed.

Catch you soon.

Pattypan xx

Sunday, 16 July 2017

In the garden continued

Its been a hard old slog and I have only got a little way.  However slowly and surely I am getting there.  Its been raining on and off and I have not bothered to come in.  I moved my mums potting tray as it was on the garden floor and emptied it because it was full of water.  Then was quite upset as I had made a frog homeless.  He has disappeared into the mass of tomato plants so will have to pop some more water down for him(which I have since done and provided a stepping/hopping stone for him to get into the pond.  I have been very lucky over the years and we have nearly always had a frog in the garden even though I have no pond and it is good to give them some kind of an environment especially  when they are so good at keeping the bugs away. 

I have managed to weed out all down the edge of the shed - its not possible to put any plants in down there as the strip is too narrow and it also has the slab cement on the edge, so I  have put some tubs down there with my shop bought herbs in them.  I have found that the nice deep planters are ideal for these herbs keeping them upright although I have not planted them into the soil they are on some gravel which means they are able to absorb the heat and the water.  Seems to be working anyway and they look very healthy.

I am aiming to clear the path down the side of the shed so that I can relocate the three growing houses.  Two of them I had anyway and the third came from my mums.  Two are the same one different but to pull them all together and tie them in I have decided to paint them.  Will pop into Wilkos during the week and see if they have anything suitable.  They need to go further down the existing path which is cluttered up at the moment just for the time being - until their permanent position is sorted and cleared.  I need to be able to access them because I have all sorts of gardening paraphernalia in there which I use regularly so it has to be easily accessible.

I need to add soil to my tomato plant pots as well to sort them out a bit and also tidy up the cucumber plant. I have a cucumber plus three smaller ones.

I have just stopped  to get a drink and also to get Sunday dinner on we have a choice of roast chicken or roast pork., together with home made stuffing with sausage meat added, roasties. roast onion, mixed vegetable medley, carrots and mashed potato and oh lots and lots of gravy.  Whatever is not used today will do for tomorrow.  it will not go to waste and the stuffing goes perfectly with both of them.

Dinner was delish and just what the Doctor ordered.  We had the roast pork.  It had been reduced at the Co=Op and I got it for £4.  There is still plenty left for tomorrow if we want it or he can have it for sarnies to take to work.

I have since been back out into the garden and have been attacking the self-set brambles cutting them back little by little and getting pricked in the process despite wearing some leather gloves and a pair of marigolds on the inside.  Don't do creepie crawlies in the gloves so better safe than sorry. 

Have got on better than I thought I would but it looks as though its going to be a week of gardening when I get in from work to try and get the garden back into some sort of order and also to get plants potted up etc.  If I can get the garden squared during the week I will get the paint and paint the shed next weekend and should then be able to get my table into the little nook so that I can eat my breakfast in peace and quiet.  Its hard work but it will be worth it in the end.

OH is going to have to help me though as the contents of his collapsed shed are on the side and some of the things need keeping so I need his assistance with that.  The rest can go to the tip later in the week.  I am determined to have as good a clear out as I can in the garden.  I still have lots of things planned and there is still an awful lot to do.

The tomatoes look a little better than they did first thing which is the main thing I may well have just got to them in time but they are going to need some sorting out during the course of the week.

Right had better get a wriggle on; have to get ready for work tomorrow.  With all the bending and pulling, cutting etc. my back and my legs feel as if they do not belong to me.

Catch you soon.



I have asked the Question so now here is my answer

If I gave you some potatoes, onion, cheese, eggs milk and some herbs.  What would you make with it and why?

Baked potatoes with cheese and onion filling;
Herb omelette
Fried eggs
Mashed potatoes
Scrambled eggs
Cheese, potato, fried onion and herb Frittata
Potato Quiche
Fat chips and cheese and onion dipping sauce

All these can feed the belly and feed the soul very cheaply.

This all started off at the veg shop yesterday I was enquiring how business was.  They said things had been very quiet and it would appear that people are going to the supermarkets even though a lot of the time (not always) you get more for your money at the veg shop than you would in the supermarket.  I tend to agree.  I am lucky that I have them on the doorstep and that I am able to do the amount of preserving I have because of their reasonable prices.  I not only preserve but I do a lot of cooking during the week as well.  Sometimes it is simple things for tea another night a full dinner with all the vegs.  We eat well often simply but it is always tasty.

I know one or two of you have a warehouse or similar where you are able to go to.   A lot of you grow your own which I aspire to.  One day.

I turned round and said well people are not concentrating on the basics, like potatoes, eggs, vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and carrots, onions, celery.  From which you can have veggies with every meal, you can from any leftovers of veggies and mashed potato make bubble n squeak, soups.  And  fruits like apples, plums etc.  If they did they could live quite cheaply and also have tasty food to boot.  Straightaway from the apples you can  have apple sauce from them, stewed apple and ice cream for pudding, apple pie,  Tarte Tatin, Apple charlotte,apple sponge, plums you can do similar.  And a pudding is a cheap way of filling the tummy when there is not much money around for meat. 

The same as a bowl of soup.  Can be made cheaply out of a chicken carcass out of which bird you have probably had a good couple of meals, made stock that will go into countless meals,  the soup and the scraps can be used in sandwiches, turned into Coronation chicken or given to the cats as a treat.  Equally the vegetable peelings, and toppings can be used to make a vegetable stock as long as everything was scrubbed before hand.

The veg shop owners are struggling  - I know there are people who are not using them relying on the supermarkets instead who haven't got much income in, have a couple of kids. have horrendous bills to pay and are juggling and struggling.  I have been there and with prices going up chances are more of us are going to struggle.  The best thing about this veg shop is that they use the little local farmstead producer as well as the big auctions.  Cabbages and cauliflowers, carrots and the majority of the potatoes in big large sacks are grown in good deep dark peat fen soil.  One of the best growing mediums in the country.  What could be better for you than crops grown in these conditions.  That's the other Reason I use them apart from being a lot cheaper the food is also fresh and tasty and I know where its come from.

I think part of the problem is that a lot (not all) of younger people do not appear to know what to do with basic foodstuffs and keeping the bellies filled.  People with low incomes should be using shops like this because they offer so much more for your money which when you have a family is all the more important because you have to keep them fed.  You ladies have all passed the test and everyone came up with something different, not that I ever doubted you wouldn't.

Thank you for feeding back and do you have any ideas on how to get cooking back to the younger generation they seem to class it as too much like hard work instead of an adventure and a journey.

Catch you soon and thanks for responding.

Kind regards.



I am in the garden

Trying to tidy up and get things sorted.  Likely to be here all day and then we have to go to the tip later on.  But work needs to be done,  My tomatoes have collapsed on me and have got a bit dried out so I am not sure whether they will survive or not.  It would appear that the rain hardly helped despite it being constant so I will do what I can but I am a bit bummed about it.  Rest of the plants not too bad and I do have a cucumber and two more diddy ones.  Courgetttes are coming on strong.  .  Its been a while since I have done a bit, and things have been coming back to me slowly. Will do better next year.    Am sorting out the growing racks at the moment as I tend when not to have seeds sown in them to use them for storing the plant pots. They have got a bit untidy and as we are going to the tip later on to get rid of a load of rubbish I am having a good sort out here.  The growing houses are going to be moved soon anyway but if they are tidy they will not take much moving.  

At the end of the herb garden before you hit the shed there is a small corner (where the growing houses are at present) and I want to put a beam up at the end of the fencing onto the house wall plant up one of my mum's large plant  -pots and pop in a rambling rose in the corner and then train the rose up the beam and also put some freestanding trellis up behind so that it can trail both ways.   That way next door neighbour cannot complain and I can still have my plants.  He's an interfering old busy body.  That's the plan anyway.  The growing houses frames need a bit of tarting up so I well may in the next few weeks or so get some paint to cover this which will match in for the colour for the shed.  I intend this strip to be the main path into the main garden and the other path round the side of the shed I intend to put some trellis up at the end and create a cosy breakfast nook where I can put my small table and chairs and eat my breakfast out of the sight of prying eyes and peacefully.

I am hopeful that the fence is going to be done shortly.  A Chap came around in the week to measure up and quote to the landlord.  I have a bit of sorting to do before they can get into the garden.  Hence me being in there today.  Looks like I am going to be in most of the week but it will be a job well done.  Then once the fence is up I can put the Gazebo up and we will have a modicum of privacy.

I will pop up my reply to the Question I asked today later on and the reasoning behind it.  Thank you for those who have responded it has been very interesting seeing what you would actually do.

Get back to you later - the garden is calling.  Fortunately it is overcast and not too warm so I am able to get on.

Catch you soon.



Autumn Fruiting

Is not that far off.  We walked Missy yesterday evening and even though it is only about a week since I last walked with them everything seems to have changed in the space a few short days.

The red cherry plums have fallen.

The elderberries are starting to swell out and there are lots of clusters so it would appear there is going to be a good crop of elderberries round this way.

We found a planted tree.  Just a one off it looks like a plum of some sort.  However very unusual as if the Council have planted it they normally do not do just one but several.  So it may be that a member of the public has planted it.  Fruit is growing in any event.

I went nosying around a tree as I saw a silver birch had been chopped down and I was looking to see if there were any small pieces that I could have brought back to the house and I got goose-grassed.

Rosehips are starting to swell.  They are yet to change colour but the other day they still had petals.

Blackberries starting to ripen.  I tasted one it wasn't quite ripe it was soft but tart ideal for some wild blackberry gin or vodka.

The grass is even more golden than it was last time.

In the stillness of the early evening a rabbit takes a moment totally unaware that my lens was focused on him.

So in the bigger scheme of things I think we may be on a little further with the seasons than we thought we were.  Definitely round here anyway.

Catch you soon.



Saturday, 15 July 2017

I have a question

If I gave you some potatoes, onion, cheese, eggs milk and some herbs.  What would you make with it and why?

Love to hear from you.



A visit to the .....

Veg shop.  I have more cooking apples, apricots, a cauliflower, carrots,  6 lemons, 12 large satellite peaches, vine tomatoes (whoppers) that smell divine, some plums and a load of rhubarb.  Two bunches of mint. Not as much this week but enough for me to deal with.  I have the basics and a few more bits to go at.  I was a bit later in the day than I usually am and most of the offers had gone.  Probably better luck next week

Planned for this little haul is more bottled apple puree, dried apricots in the dehydrator, pasta sauce with the vine tomatoes, plum chutney and for the rhubarb, rhubarb cordial, rhubarb vodka and gin. possibly some other bits and bobs I saw some recipes this morning that need further investigation and the peaches are for eating.  If there is any rhubarb left I will probably pop that in the freezer for puddings.

I have also picked up reduced raspberries from the Coop, large peaches, some strawberries, some frozen mixed summer fruit which I intend to make some cordial out of,  carrots, sweetheart cabbage a green vegetable medley, frozen peas.  I have also bought milk and a pot of live natural yogurt as a starter base for a new batch of home made yogurt.  The water kefir, milk kefir, Sourdough Starter and Kombucha will also be seen to later on.

So quite a nice selection really to get stuck into and that's without anything else I have stockpiled to deal with.  

I also need to get some onions to make some onion marmalade.  I am also starting to look at chutney recipes

And we have a small piece of roast pork for tea tonight to have in sandwiches and home made apple sauce.  So things can't be too bad.

I also need to nip out and get some potatoes - they did not have any sacks at the veg shop but the local Polish shop has some small sacks that will get me out of bother for now.  It will be end of September for the bigger sacks now.

Right had better get a wriggle on.

Catch you soon.

Pattypan xx

Having a go at doing your own

Its a wet morning here in Peterborough' the rain is gently mizzling down - gentle rain that will do the plants and the soil good rather than rain lashing down and tearing everything to bits.  A gently although damp start to the weekend but that's by the by.  I am here to write about having a go at doing your own.  My doing your own results in what I call the "Putdown" each year which is basically everything I make for long term keeping that is then installed into the pantry.  There are also some short term preserves as well.

Having a go at doing your own or in my case (my own) resulted from a lack of pennies and curiosity as to how things were actually made and also being brought up against the backdrop of a family and extended family who had always done this.  However, you do have to find your own way and to start with I was very unsure but each time I have done something it has been a learning curve.  Yes, I have made mistakes but that is quite normal when you are learning things and I think by making mistakes you learn far more in the long run especially if the lesson is taken and you do not repeat the mistake.  In all honesty I think that you fall into one of two camps what I call a Techy one who can learn from written instructions or as in my case I am a visual learner and really need to see how something is done before I go on and have a go.  I pick up far more from being shown than I do by reading although I am a reader and I love reading.

There are lots of books out there with ideas and recipes and all the ones I have come across have been brilliant and have passed on time worn knowledge and recipes.  You always need the recipes.  However, the big thing about doing your own is diving in there and having a go.  It may only be for example making your own Cherry Brandy (simple as in the most basic recipe you stone/pit your cherries) and then macerate (soak the cherries in the brandy for about three months).  You can then eat the cherries with some cream or ice cream but the liquid you drain off and I filter through a coffee filter or a piece of very fine muslin, then decant into clean sterilised bottles, put the lids on label and put away on a shelf in a dark cupboard and then either bring them out in the cold winter months to drink yourselves or pass on to friends as part of a Christmas hamper. One thing I have found is that even if they do not do stuff themselves most people seem to appreciate a small bottle of home-made this or a small jar of that.  It may only be starting off with some pickled onions or shallots, or pickled beetroot but it is having a go. With me it has grown like Topsy, and the more I do the more I need and want to do as at the end of the day I end up with a very distinct larder and choice of ingredients from which to choose and make my meals from.  Or it may be that your interest stems from making nice things to give as a gift to a friend which does not only encompass food ingredients but all the crafts of sewing, needlework, crochet, patchwork, gardening, herbs, wine making and so on and so on.  Then you start collecting bottles and jars, closures, corks, lids, seals, greaseproof paper, recycling jars, specialist kitchen equipment, chocolate making moulds, different cake tins etc. etc. which it has in my case.  Oohps! I am a bit passionate about this.  So be warned one thing can lead to another.

One of the reasons why I have so many books is that they are very tactile and I am a tactile person.  The other reason is that I like to see how that person has interpreted a design or a recipe or put their own twist on an old favourite as this often sparks off an idea with me and I am in due turn able to put my own spin or twist on things.  I particularly like to see the fresh new ideas and different take on things - some of which I don't like or don't agree with but I am entitled to.  What is special though is the creativity of that person and their own personal form of expression.

However, the main reason I do what I do is to put food or drink into the pantry and then on to the table.  What I do is also calibrated to how many pennies I have available.  I choose to put a lot of my food budget into fresh ingredients that are ultimately turned into something for the pantry shelf or the freezer or home-made wine and liqueur type drinks, ginger beer, cordials and beer or cider.  I don't make everything but I do make a lot of stuff especially basics, things like:

Pickled Onions/Shallots

Pickled Beetroot

Pickled Red Cabbage.


Apple Chutney

Plum Chutney

Bottled Apples

Bottled Plums

Bottled Dark Red Cherries

Pasta Sauce


Blackberry and apple jelly

Plum jelly


All sorts of different jams

Etc. etc.

But that's just me.  I wish I could do more.  I am very lucky in the greater scheme of things but the wish is to be able to grow my own and although I have some capacity to do a little the land we have is not really big enough to do what we want to do.  However, we are making the best of what we have and doing a bit but the dream is to go on and have somewhere with a bit of land and a bigger pantry. Even if it does not have a pantry I would consider having a large pantry built, but I would also want a large utility room or separate room in which to store all the jars, demijohns, equipment etc.  There is no point in investing in equipment especially expensive bottling/canning jars and other expensive equipment for it to get broken so really, I do need somewhere safe in which to store all the extra equipment I have safely.  One day I will get there.

I was having a lay in this morning and I had a stack of books to look through and re-acquaint myself with - I am looking for recipes as usual and I was in a big heap in the middle of the bed with the quilt wrapped round me and have spent a good hour and a half filtering through looking for bits I want to do.  It was a pleasure to leaf through the pages and just spend some me time.  Books sorted recipes sorted, recipes marked for future use especially on the dairy and meat front so to some extent I have a visual of what I am going to do and how I am going to do it.  Just now need to get on with it.  But I have a tad of kitchen sorting to do first. 

During the book browse I came across an old faithful book which has lots of useful little bits in it.  The book is beautifully presented and it is different very different but it is the recipes and what to do with those recipes and instructions that are really the key part of this book.  It has something for everyone in it and is one to look out for. It is simply presented and it does have some beautiful photographs and ideas.

If you click on the photographs above and go to original size you should be able to read what is written on the book.  Then when you have finished reading click back on to medium it will take the photo back to the size of the rest of the photos in this post.

 I hope that has whetted your appetite to seek out this book.  It has recipes for home made sweets, savouries, liqueurs like Cassis, pear crisps, vegetable crisps, muffins gardening information soap making home cosmetics, chutneys.  bramble jelly, blackberry gin, home made toffee apples, different things to do with herbs, home made leaf teas, catnip toys for the cats, soap and bath bomb making, articles on scented pelargoniums etc. etc.   I have found that this book I am always back and forwards to for something or the other perhaps because of the variety of things to do in it  but it is another lovely book and well worth book shelf room for beginner and experienced alike.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Something for the Pantry Shelf - Mint Sauce

Over the years I have covered quite a few topics and quite a few different recipes.    In  my herb border I nearly always have mint growing unless I have replaced the plants in which case there is not much in there and then I buy in bunches from the local shop.  I just love the smell of fresh mint it is very invigorating. One of the simplest things to do is to make your own fresh mint sauce which gives a lift to any dish.  So therefore this small post is just a revisitation on a familiar theme.

We like fresh mint sauce and in fact OH will have mint sauce with anything.  It is not just restricted to serving with roast lamb. Its also one of the first things I remember being shown how to prepare at my Nan's knee and also at my mum's.  When we were older this became our responsibility i.e stripping the mint leaves and then popping them on the chopping board.  The chopping when we were younger was always dealt with by an adult.  That way we were made to feel as though we were helping.   We predominantly in the summer months eat freshly made mint sauce but regularly stockpile the keeping mint sauce.  At the rate OH goes through this it is the only way I can keep pace


Or Mint sauce that can be kept on the pantry shelf and brought out as and when you want it.  I have this year's issue to make yet but as I replaced my plants earlier on I am waiting for some more growth on my mint plant.


Whichever type of mint sauce I make I always these days use a herb chopper as it prepares the mint evenly and to tell you the truth my knife skills are not up to snuff (my Achilles heel) but I get by.

Its surprising how something so useful can be made out of hardly nothing.  Just a little bit of graft which makes a sauce that totally lifts a meal.

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)