Tuesday, 31 December 2013

New Year Wishes.

It's that time of year, when the resolutions are flying thick and fast, and as usual the question is, how long can they be kept? And again, as usual the answer is probably not very long.

However this year, I am determined that things will be different, so instead of declaring a list of things that are practically unattainable, I'm sticking to a more realistic approach. In the order that I think they will last, starting with the one that has the best chance of success.

First, try to make a new (to me) bread recipe a week. Also create more variety in the meals we have at home.

Second, write more regularly, and do more to promote my self-published work

Third, Do a lot of the DIY jobs that I keep putting off.

Fourth, (and here is the same one that I say every year) exercise more and eat less junk.

There's a pattern developing here, note how the eating comes before the denial.But I do mean less junk, not the good stuff, and as the classification is mine, there's potential there.

Anyway, today's bread was a mixed Sourdough, this time done with white flour on a spelt starter. Baked in my new cast iron casserole, it had 90 minutes to get the centre up to 95 degrees. But the crust was divine, and the crumb soft and chewy.

We had a visitor in the study, and it was symbolic of transformation, of new beginnings, very apt for the time of year.

I have no idea where it came from, it just suddenly was!

Happy New Year to you all.

Sunday, 29 December 2013


I have a new toy,

and what better way to christen it than this,

I know its a bit similar to Turkey, but I do enjoy a free-range Chicken. And there's enough left for several meals in the freezer, plus a good litre of stock.

I had some frozen stock veg left over so added them to the bones and boiled it for a couple of hours,(camera got a bit steamed up)

I got nearly a litre of stock, it'll go into the freezer in these plastic water bottles,

For Xmas, I also got James Morton's book 'Brilliant Bread', which I thought I might try a few things from. First up was the Marmite Bread, which sounds a bit radical but actually came out really well.


Maybe not as risen as I had thought, but super tasty, I'll definitely be doing that one again.
I also found a recipe for easy French Sticks, using Plain Flour. (Thanks to Pattypan and her Pinterest)  As the oven was on, I had a go, and while the shaping was a bit wonky, the taste made up for it.

We were dog free for a week, whilst we decorated, but it's nice to have them back.And as you can see, they have got the best seats again. Bless!

Thursday, 26 December 2013


It's funny, how something can set you off on a nostalgia trip, when you least expect it.

Last Monday, at 6am I was being swept around the supermarket, on a tide of people who were unaware that the shops would be shut for ONE WHOLE DAY, or at least that's how it seemed, judging by the amount of stuff they were buying.

Anyway, I was intending to get some smoked salmon, amongst other things, but was stopped in my tracks by the sight of a tin of Red Salmon, like the ghost of Christmas past.

In my mind I was about 6 or 7, (a long time ago) in my parents house in Collaton St Mary, eating tinned Salmon sandwiches, thinking that it must be a really expensive treat. After all, we only ever had tinned salmon at Christmas.

So when I saw this tin, it seemed to be whispering 'buy me', so I did.

Boxing day tea will be tinned salmon sandwiches, on Sourdough bread, and I can't wait to recapture the feelings of all those years ago, when everything was ahead and life was so much simpler.

But first, what to do with the excess, after all there are only two of us here today, and a lot of salmon in a tin.

I thought fishcakes, but to be honest I just couldn't be bothered to go to all the trouble of moulding them, (I know it's not a big job, but I'm fooded out) so I mashed up some potato, added garlic paste and Balsamic and folded in the salmon.

I put it in a small oiled casserole and covered with home-made sourdough breadcrumbs and a few mixed herbs..

That'll go in the oven for around 25 minutes tomorrow, after spraying with Oil. It'll be served with a Watercress and Tomato salad.

We've de-cluttered the front room and re-arranged the ornaments,

Hopefully the energy will flow better now. But nothings wasted round here, and the other things are in a new home, on the new garden feature.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

More Turkey Part 2

Where was I? Oh yes, the turkey is in, and the roasties are ready, boiled in veg stock for extra flavour.

After an hour, the turkey needs basting, 30 minutes later, the roasties go in.

and 15 minutes early, it's done. Take it out to rest in foil, and scrape out the potato and onion.

Any juice can go in the gravy. Put the veg in a tin and return to the oven. I put the stuffing in as well. (On the left)

Check these out,

While all that was going on, we finished putting the furniture back in the front room, and hung pictures.

I've painted the shelves, but they wont be dry till tomorrow, so the ornaments will go back then.

More Turkey, Part 1.

Christmas Day, and as well as the Turkey, we have to finish decorating the front room. In case any of you have come in half way through this, we had Christmas last weekend, as several of our family were working over the festivities (Doctors, Midwives Nurses etc)

So as we had put the dogs in kennels, we decided to use the time to decorate.

It's gone really well so far, just a final lick of paint and then clean up and put all the stuff back.
In between, we are having another Turkey lunch, (Why not?) so I'm doing it in between the other bits.

I had success a couple of years ago in roasting my turkey on a bed of potato and onion, so I'm going to do that again, using my Charity Shop Le Creuset Casserole. (£5)

So its a layer of Lard,

then sliced potato,

then sliced Onion,

and finally, the meat.Fill in any spaces with potato or onion.

That goes into a 190 degree oven for 2.5 hours. Now on with the painting. Don't forget to baste it.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Posh Soup

There's something about a certain make of Tomato Soup, (You know which one) that makes you feel better instantly.

Our decorating is progressing,

and we are now on the finishing straight, just another coat on the woodwork and steam clean the floor, (Tomorrow) then we can relax, if the fumes from the radiator spray-paint haven't got us first.

I got spray-paint cos I always end up with an uneven finish and bristles everywhere, now I can't breathe.

I digress, back to the soup. I cant resist adding a bit of extra stuff to mine, usually some frozen veg, and a few of my sourdough croutons,

it makes a bit more of it.

Of course, you need bread with soup, and I've made my large 24 hour sourdough, with a mixture of Rye and Spelt starters and Wholemeal flour. This one keeps for at least a week, and any left makes croutons or savoury biscotti.

After lunch, there will be another coat of paint to apply.

Merry Christmas everyone.

STOP PRESS, I've just had a payment from Amazon for royalties on sales of "Freefall," that's a first for me, a big thank you to all that have brought it, don't miss "The Rocks of Aserol," (https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/385201) it's only $ 1.99! 

Monday, 23 December 2013

Just what the Doctor Ordered.

Due to various work commitments, we had an early Xmas this year, two of my daughters were either working, or had husbands working over the festivities, so we all went to Amy's for the weekend before, as it was the only time we could get together. George is still in Oz so we will have another Xmas in April when she comes home!

As usual Amy did a superb spread, with home made mince pies,

sausage rolls,

  and a turkey to die for.

I even had two helpings of sprouts!!!!! (Pan fried in Lemon and Garlic)

Their house looked amazing, (Thanks Amy for letting me use the pics)

and we had a really good time.

Harry, Amy's husband is a Hospital Consultant, and he prescribed the perfect Xmas cure. It involved Xmas Pudding, Custard, Brandy Butter and Brandy Cream, Oh and Alcohol as well. He's a genius cos it made me feel better, or at least feel no pain for a while!!!!!

We got home Sunday evening, and set about part two of the plan. As we have had our  Xmas (at least until April) we decided to paint the front room. The dogs were in kennels, so no hair, or worry about them sleeping in a smelly room, and we could get on, secure in the knowledge that we wouldn't be disturbed. We have had the paint for a couple of years now, but never seem to get round to it. There was a worry that we might not like the colour after all this time.

It didn't go completely according to plan the weather was horrendous, and my Plastic greenhouse did a creditable impression of a ship under full sail across the garden, but once I had caught it and tied it down we could begin.

I have no before picture, but suffice to say it was worse than we thought once we had moved all the furniture into the centre of the room. I painted the ceiling with a White paint that goes on Red, so you can see where you have been. It dries white though, which was a relief. Yvonne did the walls.

After a day we had done about half, and it was looking good. Just the last of the cutting in, the woodwork and the radiators to do. Oh and wipe up the mess and steam clean the floor. And buy new curtains in the sales. ( We washed the old ones, they both shrank, which might not have been a problem as they were a bit long to start with. Except that they both shrank by different amounts!)

We can finish most of that tomorrow, then do the last bits on Weds and Thurs.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Cut Off! And Saffron Buns.

A bit of a shock on Thursday, it had been a bit windy on Wednesday night, but when I took the dogs down to the beach on Thursday afternoon, I was greeted with this sight,

I could get around it by cutting through the hedge, but obviously no cars were going to get through.

Looking back this was the other side.

It was quieter down the beach, only the local dogs made it. The sea was rough and there was rain in the wind, but that made plenty of surf to chase and bark at. (The dogs, not me,  not this time?)

On Wednesday, I had started making the Saffron Buns to take to Amy, I scalded 350ml of milk, adding a good pinch of Saffron and left it to soak overnight.

Thursday pm,  he milk looked a good colour, I added 20g honey and 25g butter and warmed it slightly, not too much or the yeast will die.

Next the dry ingredients, 250g each of Plain and Strong White flours, 10g each of yeast and salt and finally 300g mixed raisins, sultanas and cranberries.

Knead it all together for around 10 minutes, till you get a good dough.

After an hour and a half, it had doubled in size,

so I scaled it at 120g and made my buns.I put the oven on to 200 degrees.

An hour later the buns had proved so in they went, after a milk wash.

20 Minutes later, the moment of truth.

I hope Amy likes them.

Its Solstice today, so I wish you all the blessings of the season.