Thursday, 24 January 2013

Where has the time gone?

I have hardly blinked and it seems that a couple of weeks have passed. There has been quite a lot going on here and the time has flown. We have had little snow in this corner of Devon, but on a trip to get my car serviced, I saw that we have been very fortunate. Also when driving to and from work, the South-East seems to have been harder hit. I do remember 1963, and going to school every day through drifts that were so much taller than me, (I was 5!) but I think that we forget when we have a few mild years that we live in a place that can have quite severe weather.

Anyhow, we have been keeping warm with lots of soups and casserole type meals, then my oven broke down. We have waited a week for the parts, I did try using the "Top" oven, but it is even more wildly unreliable, temperature wise, than the main one. Hence my breads were burnt on the bottom whilst raw on top. The people are coming to fix it today so hopefully normal service will be resumed.

Talking to neighbours, the cooker is a lot older than we thought, when we moved in the people we brought from agreed to leave it, as it was fitted, and had cleaned it so that it looked almost new. Turns out they had inherited it from the previous owners 5 years before. So at least its nearly 8 years old and may be older.

Heres a couple of pictures of the dogs, basking in the central heating. Bless!


I'm still getting used to the camera on my phone, it also uploads them straight to the web, which is a bit unsettling, I'll have to try and turn that off.

Thursday, 10 January 2013


Where did I get to last time, oh yes, I was making marmalade, well here are some more pics of the operation,



I also bottled the Rose Petal wine that has been clearing in the airing cupboard,
but the parsnip is still cloudy. So I am going to filter it when the paper arrives, I tried it with muslin but the mesh was not fine enough, so I ordered some milk filter papers when I got cheese making supplies. They should catch the small lumps better.

I actually went to work after a 29 day break, a bit of a shock to the system, but nice to get back in the groove again. I actually get a good picture with my new phone of a ship entering Tilbury Lock in the dark.

Food wise, on Wednesday we had stir fried onion, peppers, mushrooms and Chorizo with added couscous; it only took about 10 minutes so was ideal after a day travelling.

Thursday I made a white loaf,


And a tomato flatbread which I topped with the last of the Haloumi, it crisped up a bit but tasted OK.


 I just read that people waste half of the food they buy, I’m shocked. I threw a pepper away yesterday because it had gone rotten, but the others I brought at the same time I used. I think that that is the first thing I have thrown away for ages, we don’t always fill a bag for the caddy every week.

Anyhow I made a meat ragout with the usual suspects and split it, half for tomorrow as is and half with some tomato sauce and pasta tonight.

I use the grain pasta, adding it to the meat and sauce, as it cooks it thickens the sauce. (And it means less washing up!)

I have been picked up the proverbial and have sent off part one of my novel for a professional critique, but now I am nervously awaiting the verdict, I hope that there will be some positive reaction, even if it is only suggestions for improvement. I have three weeks to worry about it.

Finally today, here is a picture of my lovely wife, and her new hairstyle.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

The moment of Truth.

Today is the day we test the Haloumi, I have high hopes for it, as it seems to have firmed up nicely, so will slice and fry it with some mushrooms. There are sourdough rolls to put it in as well. I forgot to mention, I saved a litre of the whey, I have heard that its good for bread-making instead of water, so will try that next time.

To use up the last of the sliced Turkey and Ham, I made a batch of fried rice last night. Basically chopped onion and pepper, with the shredded meat, some 5 spice powder and peas, all fried in Sesame oil in a large pan. Meanwhile I had boiled rice and when it was just about done I did some scrambled egg in the microwave. This was then combined in the saucepan, and served, with Sweet Chilli Sauce and Prawn crackers.

Even though I try to shun the trappings of modern life, I find that I am not totally immune, and so my new mobile phone arrives today or tomorrow. I have had issues with my present one, which I got two years ago, because I got it on a whim, and to be honest I wish that I hadn’t. So I have been counting the days until I could replace it with one more suited to my needs. I have done a lot of research this time, so hopefully I will be happier with it for the next two years.

Also, my contact in the fruit trade tells me that its just about Seville Orange time, I have been buying the odd packet of sugar every week or so for the last month, so that I am ready, and intend to make two batches of Marmalade and two of the Vin D’Orange that proved so successful last year. One batch of Marmalade will go to work for sale; the money I make on this should pay for all the ingredients that I have brought. At least that is the theory, last time I took preserves to work for sale, they went almost instantly, and I have been asked when I will be doing it again, so confidence is high.

They had the oranges in, so I nipped down and brought 7lb! 6lb went for marmalade and the rest for the Wine, doing that kept me out of mischief, next time I looked it was 4 hours later.

Vin D'Orange in a month


The Haloumi was sliced and fried in a little garlic oil, as were the mushrooms.

 I don’t think Nando’s need to be too worried about the competition, but it tasted pretty good. And as it happened, the rolls were the exact size of the cheese.
I didn’t think that it would be filling, but I was wrong, it was!

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

The Great Cheese Experiment.



Yesterday, I made up the cheese culture as per the instructions. I did not have a vacuum flask big enough, except for one of those pump action dispenser type ones. Leave for 20 hours was the instruction, so this morning when I came downstairs, I found that the laws of Physics had siphoned half the liquid onto the worktop for me.

Undeterred, I reasoned that either the culture would work or it wouldn’t, and the only way to find out was to actually try to make some cheese. That required 5 litres of milk, which will make cheese or not. You can’t tell until you have tried. So in the spirit of New Year, New attitude, I proceeded to have a go. There was only semi-skimmed milk at the shop, but I followed the instructions to the letter, and now I’m just waiting to see if curds have formed. Obviously, when you read this you will know straight away, as soon as you can read the next line, but the 45 minute wait for me was in turn exciting and worrying. Would I waste 5 litres of milk? Would I have to make a new culture? Is it because I am not cultured myself? (Or so I’m told, when I worked at sea for the P&O I was told that my personnel file was marked NSPD, and on enquiry it was explained that that meant Not Suitable for Passenger Division.)

The instructions were explicit, cover and leave for 45 minutes, of course that means that I found it hard to resist having a look, but I did, and tension rose.

I have also found that you can’t take photos of milk curdling and make them interesting.

And……………….. It didn’t work, who knows what I did wrong, maybe it was the skimmed milk, maybe the culture, maybe something else. Any ideas welcomed. 

In the spirit of going for broke, I thought that I might as well have a play with the milk, rather than just pour it away, so in my trusty recipe book I found a method using milk, heat and cider vinegar to make Haloumi.

Why not?

And a few minutes later I have my answer.


As you can see, I have curds, which will now sit in the fridge for a day or so to ripen, but the initial taste is promising. I will e-mail the place where I got the culture and pick his brains; meanwhile I think I may have saved the day (and the milk)