Category Archives: Cooking

All things new?

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I woke up on Saturday morning fully refreshed after a good night’s sleep. I wanted to give the new pillar stand a coat of gloss paint but first I had to move it into the boiler room where it is always warm. The room it was in whilst under construction is a far cooler room and the paint had been taking a longer time than normal to dry. I am talking about the primer/undercoat which is supposed only to take thirty minutes to be touch dry under normal temperatures. The workshop along with the room beneath the small lounge are always cool because the ground outside at the front of the house is raised above ground level. See behind the flowerbed the raised portion. 

I moved my ‘workmate’ bench into the boiler room too so that I could place the stand on it whilst painting. It didn’t take long to paint it but it will need another coat later. That done I decided to clean up the cellar hallway carpet and the floor in the workshop where I had been working. It was covered in sawdust. That took some time but soon I was finished. I waited until E had gone out after her lunch to her monthly meeting and then I retrieved the tall ladder from the garage where I had put it after completing the lounge project and moved it into the rear lounge. I wanted to fit the curtain rail in there and hang the curtains which I had removed from the small lounge a few weeks ago. First though, I had to strengthen the centre support by placing a metal tube through the support for the poles to be inserted and skim the ends of the poles so they would fit. It didn’t me take long to complete the whole job, about an hour…

I had skipped lunch as I wasn’t hungry at the time but made a sandwich when I had finished working and whilst I was making a vegetable and chicken stew for my evening meal. It was so late when I ate the sandwich that I left the stew for the following day.

The pan is larger than it looks for there is enough stew in it for three meals and it is only half filled. Anyone for stew? That done I went into the rear garden to water some of the plants, those which are under a canopy of leaves in the warmer months. It had been raining earlier but there was little or no wind which would normally blow the rain beneath the trees so occasionally I have to water those plants myself.

The plants affected are all in the long flowerbed (shown above) though in this picture taken in late Winter there were no leaves to form a canopy. That was it, finished for the day and time to relax.

Shirley Anne

Poor electricians?

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I am glad I entered into the electrical trade/business all those years ago. For someone who has an inquisitive mind it is the ideal occupation. People often ask why I took up electrical work and the answer I give is that I wanted to know how things work. It is still the reason even now and it doesn’t stop at electrical things, I am interested in many things and how they work, how they are made and the history behind them too. It is a passion I guess but it helped when I first embarked in my career that I enjoy working with my hands and to be truthful it was essential. There are no such things as poor electricians providing they are prepared to work.

Power to the people!

Power to the people!

I am not super rich and never could be unless I had a large business employing many people but that was never an option for me, I simply wasn’t that way inclined. Being self-employed is in itself a driving force though less so for myself these days because I am fortunate to have a two-pension income. My self employment allows me to enjoy that little bit extra without the worry that I would have to struggle on my pensions alone. I could manage on just my pensions and I could even still save something at the end of the month. It isn’t that extra cash that motivates me though, it is the fact that I am still capable of working and I enjoy the work and in meeting people. Of course I no longer work full-time, I have no wish to and probably couldn’t maintain full-time working for very long, even one day doing that is tiring at my age. On Monday morning I changed the bedclothes and washed the soiled sheets in the washing machine before breakfast then an hour later hung them in the boiler room to dry. It is such an advantage having cellars in a house. As I had nothing else planned I was wondering what I could do for the rest of the morning in the garden whilst the weather was dry. I didn’t wish to continue with digging out bluebells in the remaining section of flowerbed that as yet I haven’t touched. I thought there might be one or two popping up in places where I had been clearing them out so I went into the garden to check. I didn’t need to look far and soon found some beginning to show themselves in a couple of places. I spent an hour digging them out before returning indoors. It was now approaching lunchtime so I thought I would prepare a vegetable stew. Using onions, bell peppers, garlic cloves, carrots, sweetcorn, lentils, barley, green beans, pre-cooked diced chicken and seasoning I made enough for three meals.

Washing peppers

Washing peppers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By now it was 12.15 so I decided to have some for lunch but my phone rang and it was a job offer in the next town. I drove there and did the work which has now led to more work in the weeks ahead. It pays being an electrician if you are prepared to work………

Shirley Anne

Somehow didn’t happen

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Assorted bell pepper fruits from Mexico

Assorted bell pepper fruits from Mexico (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you ever wake up in the morning with the idea in your head that you’ll do something intended, a plan of some sort but as the morning and the day progresses it all goes awry. Nothing ventured nothing gained can apply to many things and I know this has been the theme in my life from time to time. I might have it in my head to do something completely different from my normal routine or carry on working on one of my projects or not but then things change and I do nothing. Later I might regret it. Well this was my lot on Saturday. On Friday as my readers will know from that day’s post, I worked on the heating system in our house. On refilling the system I found that one of the radiators I had been working on, the one in the top room, seemed not to be filling up with water and a couple more on the floor below were taking a lot of time to vent too. I decided to leave working on the system for another time. After working on it most of the day I was tired and had an early night. I slept soundly and didn’t wake until after eight. It was after ten before I got downstairs for a light breakfast. I resisted all ideas of continuing with working on the heating system. What did I want to do? Well that was the problem, I didn’t know, I couldn’t think of anything I might want to do. I let the morning drift on until lunch time when I decided to prepare a meal. I like making vegetable stew, making it up as I go along but after making so many of them I now have a standard version. Ingredients start with a large bell pepper, a large onion both chopped but not too small, in fact a little chunky, a few cloves of garlic freshly chopped too then all lightly fried in olive oil or similar. Pre-cooked diced chicken pieces are added and lightly fried. Once the frying session is finished I add a small can of carrots and the salted water they are in followed by frozen garden peas and sometimes sweetcorn too. Once they have heated through I add some hot water to the desired amount together with two chicken stock cubes, black pepper and salt to taste. I leave to simmer for fifteen to twenty minutes and it is ready for the table. Sometimes I make enough for a couple of meals as I did this time, leaving the excess in the covered pan it was cooked in to be reheated the next day. I never freeze this type of food as freezing causes an alteration in taste if frozen too long. It is always nicer cooked and eaten fresh. This type of meal gives me at least four of my ‘five a day‘ vegetables or fruit and is full of vitamins and minerals and hardly any fat. On any given day though I usually have ten to twelve of my ‘five a day’! I eat lots of fruit. This may be why I look far younger than I am or at least keeping that way for I don’t think I have ever looked my age. It is healthy eating whichever way you look at it. Frozen prepacked ready meals are not for me. Anyway that took some time out of my day as did peeling and cooking some fresh pears afterward. I planned to go for a short walk but then the heavens opened and we had some heavy rainfall. I gave up on the idea and that is the way the rest of the day turned out. There was always tomorrow.

PS…….The heating system settled down all by itself. When I vented the radiators again on Monday afternoon I found there was very little air in them! Phew!

Shirley Anne

A loose screw

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Chopped 'n' Skrewed

Chopped ‘n’ Skrewed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am getting used to having a little extra lie in bed now and then when once I didn’t even get the opportunity but I suppose it is all due to the fact that I am not doing as much lately. I often just lie there letting thoughts drift through my head until I finally snap out of it and get up. So it was on Saturday morning. It is the routine of taking a shower,  getting dressed and brushing my teeth which I find a chore though strangely not applying my make-up. I wonder why that is. I didn’t arrive downstairs until after ten o’clock and kept my late breakfast to a minimum, just enough to satisfy and no more. As it was so late I decided I would prepare something for lunch and I wanted to make some sort of vegetable broth or soup. I chopped up a bell pepper and an onion and lightly fried them in a sauce pan whilst I had a kettle of water heating up. I poured in the hot water and added lentils, the kind that didn’t need an overnight soak in water, and a handful of barley. Once that was simmering I added vegetable stock, a dash of black pepper and some garlic salt.

Assorted bell pepper fruits from Mexico

Assorted bell pepper fruits from Mexico (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Later I added some pre-cooked carrots finely chopped and some frozen garden peas which too are already cooked before being frozen. Finally I added some mixed herbs. Once it had all cooked through I left it standing until I was ready to eat it later. I could only make things like this for myself because E doesn’t like most of the ingredients I put into it, onions, peppers, barley and lentils. Sometimes I will put in a little chopped bacon too but that wouldn’t persuade her to eat it even though she loves bacon. I think she is very fussy about her food but that is who she is. She was about to go off to her group’s monthly meeting when my youngest son surprised us with a visit. He and his girlfriend had split up last year and it was decided that she would move from their house. It appears that my son’s friend is in a position to cover her share of the mortgage payments by way of renting  as a tenant for he has landed a good job in the area and needs accommodation.  E went to her meeting and soon afterward he left to meet with friends. I had nothing to do that I could do so was at a bit of a loose end. I was upstairs and I went into the bedroom we are refurbishing and as I looked out of the window and the miserable wet weather we were having I noticed that the flag had come away from the pole at the bottom. Union FlagWe have had a little trouble with the flag in regard to the way it is attached to the pole and only a week or so back I thought I had finally cured the problem by using a nylon cable tie instead of relying on the rope eyelet provided which kept on wearing away. So I went outside to see what the problem was and on lowering the flag I saw that there wasn’t a thing wrong with the flag itself but the chain link it was fixed to. The flag uses a plastic-covered chain wrapped about the flag pole to act as a fixing and weight at the bottom of the flag. The top of the flag is of course attached to the rope which runs up inside of the hollow flag pole and which exits at the top of the pole. The chain has one link which is fitted with a ‘running screw’ nut. This means that as the nut is turned it exposes a gap in the link to allow a ring or hoop to attach and can then be screwed back to close the gap. All I had to do was re-attach the flag and close the screw. Why it had opened by itself I am not sure but obviously the screw had been loose.

Shirley Anne

The hats I wear

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A fresh batch of homemade buttermilk scones.

A fresh batch of homemade buttermilk scones. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do I wear hats? Not really, it’s a metaphor. I stayed in bed a little longer than usual on Saturday morning and after my prayer time I took a shower and got dressed. It was to be ‘clean linen day’ so I changed the bed linen and took it downstairs into the cellar to be washed. Our washing machine is in the cellar. It was by now after eleven o’clock so obviously I wasn’t having breakfast. E had been up some time and had already eaten breakfast. I decided to prepare an early lunch, actually my main meal for the day and sat down at noon to eat it whilst watching the television. Saturday mornings on BBC are usually filled with cookery programs and I like to watch some of them. After lunch and with nothing special to do elsewhere in the house I started to bake some scones and when they were in the oven I made a Rich Fruit Cake mixture and baked the cake once the scones were done.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

By this time E had decided to have a light snack, mostly fruit as she normally does in the middle of the day so we sat together continuing to watch television over a coffee. We watched the first half of the rugby match between France and Ireland for we both take an interest in the game. Ireland were leading at the end of the period. France however came back in the second half to win by one point. I remained in the kitchen and peeled and cooked some pears, something I do every week. I like canned pears but those prepared at home even better. We keep plenty of canned fruit at home but mostly it is consumed when we run out of fresh produce, though I do like it mixed with fresh fruit too. I must have spent four hours in the kitchen all told. Our kitchen and the adjoining dining room isn’t exactly a neat and tidy area, it is what you might call ‘lived in’ and I like it that way. It is about the only place in the house other than the cellar rooms and those being used for storage at the moment that is left this way. We try to keep some semblance of order in the lounges and bedrooms. Well I do anyway! I’ll say no more. So this Saturday was spent mainly cooking and doing household things. It all makes a change from electrical work, plumbing, plastering, brick-laying, concrete laying, joinery, painting and decorating, gardening and a host of other things I find to do at home. Now I am going to play my guitar for a while!

Shirley Anne

Well that’s a bind!

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u_10026011On November 10th I expected to receive delivery of an order I had placed on-line for a new range cooker in black together with a chimney hood, also in black. There was nothing wrong with our existing hood other than its colour. It was a deep shade of green as was the old cooker. Thinking the delivery of a new black cooker hood, which incidentally is the same as the one it is replacing apart from its colour and is shown on the left, I disconnected and removed the old one and started to redecorate the walls. Well the cooker arrived as planned and was immediately installed by myself on the same day but there was no cooker hood. The supplier had informed me a few days earlier that it was currently out of stock but that they expected it to be available quite soon. I received a call from them on Friday and was told that they had been informed that the manufacturer didn’t expect to have any available until February! However I was again informed by the supplier that they were expecting a delivery on December 1st. Where they were expecting it to come from is anyone’s guess. I was told that I would be the first to receive one of any that came into their hands at that time. Well thanks a bundle Mr. Supplier. I do not mind waiting but what annoys me is that there was no indication on their website that the goods were currently out of stock and unavailable. I advised them to upgrade their site and have this feature written into the software. What is the point in advertising something that isn’t available or that doesn’t show when it will be? So it looks as though the kitchen refurbishment will be held back for a couple of weeks. It would be silly to carry on with the decorating and use a cooker without the capability of being able to extract the fumes that will be produced when cooking on it and in the process spoil the decor. I suppose there are advantages in having to wait though. It means I don’t have to rush the kitchen refurbishment. It means I might have some time available for doing other things, like the garden for instance! I have a feeling that when the hood finally arrives I won’t be able to find the time to fit it as I will be too busy doing other things. Since the phone call from the supplier just prior to my writing this the phones haven’t stopped ringing with people asking for my services. If I need the time it looks like I will have to make it!

Shirley Anne

Winter draws on

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English: Braunton: Saunton Sands. A mist can b...

Braunton: Saunton Sands. A mist can be seen lifting off the surf as a winter day draws to its close (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yes, there is a joke there in the title but I don’t wish to talk about underwear. Up until Saturday last the weather has been quite mild for the most part and dry for much of the time too but I sense that will not last now we are nearing the second week of Winter. I speak about the calendar of course for the season doesn’t really show its bad side until January and February. However the country has had its first real taste of the season as it has been snowing in many places. Most of that snow though has fallen elsewhere to here where I live in Southport. A mere twenty miles or so south John Lennon airport had to close because of heavy snow fall. The airport is on the south side of Liverpool. Further northward toward north Lancashire and Cumbria they too had snow and a few miles inland from Southport also saw snow. At best we had a little sleet and I mean a little, it was mostly cold rain. Today, Sunday, as I write this the day has been gloriously sunny though cold. There was a ground frost everywhere when I arose but gradually all that had melted by noon. Well it is Winter after all. I could have gone for a walk but I decided to be lazy and stay indoors. I asked E if she would like a roast dinner, something we hadn’t enjoyed on a Sunday early afternoon for some time. I went downstairs to dig out a frozen chicken from the freezer and as it was late in the morning I had to defrost the bird in the microwave oven. Usually we let meat thaw naturally but we were dining around one o’clock. It took a mere twenty minutes or so and was ready for the oven immediately. I had preheated the oven so popped it in straight away. It was eleven fifty on the clock. Whilst it was cooking I prepared everything else. We sat down to eat around one-thirty. After dinner and after doing the washing-up I fancied baking another cake. Whilst E and I were out shopping before Christmas I bought a new round metal cake tin and was keen to use it for the first time rather than having to use the rectangular rubber/polyethylene one I had been using. So out came all the ingredients and soon the cake was in the already warm oven. It is a good idea to do as much baking as possible whilst the oven is hot for it saves on energy. I had wanted to make some coconut macaroons but didn’t have all the necessary ingredients for the recipe I was using. E said she would buy it in when next she went shopping. Winter is a good season to be baking at home I think and I am getting better at it all the time. I didn’t do much baking at home until recently. That was because I had too many other things to do, and still have I suppose but I am more relaxed about my other duties these days. Now I can take time out to bake whenever I feel like it. Mmmm….I haven’t baked any scones for a while…..and it’s warm indoors

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Shirley Anne

Ups and downs

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So Emotional

So Emotional (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Having decided yesterday (Saturday) that I was going to rest for the weekend I had no reason to get up early but nevertheless that is what I did. It is all about my sleep requirements. I find I am awake after five hours or so of sleep. I could have laid there in bed but that isn’t usually my style so I got up and found myself in good spirits. It was change the bedclothes day so that was one of the first things I did, after my daily prayers. I was downstairs around 7.15 and after putting the bed linen in the washing machine I had my breakfast. I spent a little time on the computer by which time the washing was done and needed hanging to dry. The weather these past few days has been rather wet and windy at times so rather than hanging the washing outside to dry I hung it in the boiler room. It dries just as well down there. I took my radio down into the cellar where I keep the treadmill and spent some time on it. I was feeling on top of the world. Later, after a shower I decided to peel some more of the apples and make some crumble. I was going to make a pie or two but changed my mind for the crumble instead. I had returned the radio upstairs and had it on whilst I was peeling the apples. It was the Sunday morning show on BBC 2 and they were playing an hour of love songs. I had just started peeling the apples when a song called ‘You are the sunshine of my life‘ by  Stevie Wonder began to play and when he reached the line ‘You are the apple of my eye‘ I was touched and my eyes began to water. I was thinking about E. Anyway a little later another song broke out called  ‘I will always love you’ by Whitney Houston and before it had hardly begun I was in tears, I mean streaming down my face tears. Again I was thinking about E. In fact believe it or not the tears are beginning to swell up now even as I write this. I am a very sentimental person it is true. The joy of love overwhelms me. A few songs later and I had settled down a bit. I had to concentrate on what I was doing! Soon enough the apples were cooking slowly but not too much so as the slices remained solid and I had made the crumble. I had enough apples and crumble for two large dishes and they went into the already heated oven to bake slowly for twenty-five minutes. Whilst they were baking I made myself a large cappuccino and washed the pots and utensils. It was still only five minutes after twelve when the crumbles were done. I then spent some time reading my Bible as I normally do on a Sunday morning. I am currently reading it through again from beginning to end and have just reached the Book of Job. Now there was a guy who had troubles! We think we have it bad sometimes. You should read Job. The preceding Book is Esther. That was the one I read through this day. I have read the Bible through 31 times so far with this one being number 32. I learn something new each time! I don’t confine my reading to just Sundays by the way. Anyway I was feeling on top of the world again on Sunday after feeling a little down in the dumps on Saturday. Now I was ready for the week ahead.

Shirley Anne

I’m into this cooking lark!

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doughnuts_89027_16x9A few days ago I mentioned something about making doughnuts or donuts. I had been making some pies and making the pastry myself rather than buying it ready-made which to me seems pointless as the exercise was to see if I could do it all myself having not done it before. Oh yes, I have made a few cakes and scones and those sorts of things but never got to grips with making pastry. It was about time I tried and as it turned out it was very successful. E was quite surprised I think at the result of my first effort and believe me she can be very critical. She went out on Saturday to meet with her group. They meet up on the third Saturday in the month usually. The weather had turned wet and a little stormy, though hereabouts it wasn’t that bad at all. It was wet though so I was unable to do anything in the garden as I would like to have done. The previous evening we finally had our gas supply re-instated and there was a hole in the footpath leading to the garage E uses. According to the National Grid gas engineers another group would follow on behind to restore the footpath. We had been told it could take days so late in the evening when the sun was beginning to set I decided to back-fill the hole myself with the heap of sand that had been dug out to get at the gas main and to do it before the promised rain arrived late that night. At the very least it would prevent either of us from falling into the hole, though they had placed a guard next to it. It only took me ten minutes to do it and tamp it down as best I could but at least the sand was level with the surrounding concrete paving. On Saturday morning it was raining when I arose and I was glad I’d taken the time to fill that hole. However, whilst sitting in the lounge I became aware of a very loud noise going on outside and saw that the team, or one of them supposed to be reinstating the disturbed ground were using a mechanical tamping machine in the hole I had filled to make sure it was well compacted before the flagstone and concrete were laid. They didn’t continue with that though and left to do more tamping down elsewhere. It may be Monday or Tuesday before it gets finished. Anyhow I digress. After E had gone out around 1 o’clock I decided to make preparations to cook some doughnuts using this recipe http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/doughnuts_89027 and whilst waiting for the dough to rise (it takes about 45 minutes) I made myself a salad-filled wrap for my belated lunch. I resumed making the doughnuts but still had to wait a further 30 minutes for the individual parcels of dough to rise some more before I could deep fry them. Most of the work involved in making doughnuts I’ve learned is in the waiting! One thing I found out too is that although I followed the recipe verbatim it somehow didn’t seem to be going as I expected. The main issue I had been where it says ‘knead the dough’ after it had stood for the 45 minutes. It didn’t appear to be solid enough to actually knead and I thought it must be an error with the quantity of flour in the mix. I decided to add more, quite a bit more before it became manageable without sticking to everything in the process. I was hoping I hadn’t messed it up on my first attempt but as it turned out later having eaten one of the smaller ones, it was perfect! I will make some more in the future if I get the opportunity now I know what the pitfalls are. I might also make an attempt at making them from other recipes to see if they are any better and if in fact I can make them without making a mess of it.

Shirley Anne

Baking days

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Shortcrust pastry recipe, step 5

Shortcrust pastry (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After a rather busy day on Friday and nothing special planned for the weekend I managed to have that extra hour or two in bed on both Saturday and Sunday morning. Saturday was a really lovely day and although Sunday started a little wet the day got better with each hour that passed and it was sunny again all afternoon. E and I had picked the gooseberries from the bushes on Thursday and I had it in mind to use them before they became inedible. We had left them in the fridge to keep them fresh. We had a better crop this year than last but we had to rescue the bushes from being eaten by larvae earlier in the season else we’d have had none to pick. E went to see her mum during the latter part of the morning whilst I made preparations to make a gooseberry pie. I prepared enough pastry to make at least one pie but found there was some remaining. I didn’t however make another gooseberry pie, though there was enough fruit to do that but instead made a mixed-fruit pie instead. With the remaining gooseberries I wanted to make a crumble. As I am the only one in the house who likes gooseberries I had to freeze the pie for another day. On Sunday morning I chopped up the large bundle of rhubarb E had brought home from visiting her mum but didn’t feel like making more short crust pastry so I prepared some crumble instead. I made two large rhubarb crumbles but again had to freeze one for another day. I am the only one who likes rhubarb too! During the day I searched for recipes for making doughnuts because I have always wanted to make them at home but somehow never found the time. There are many recipes for making doughnuts as I’m sure many will know so I will try out a few of them to see what is tasty. E does like doughnuts though so I’ll have to make plenty! All I need now is the time for as my readers know I am often busy working. Rainy days and Sundays will probably be the best time for such things. I’ve never been one for doing much baking in the past but over the last few years I have gained quite an interest having baked scones and cakes in recent times. There is much to be said for home baking if it is done right of course. All ingredients will be free of preservatives if chosen properly. Maybe I will be posting more about home baking in the months to come.

Shirley Anne

Tentative steps

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Apfelstrudel, a Viennese speciality

Apfelstrudel, a Viennese speciality (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Although I resumed my work on Monday I wasn’t feeling at my best. I had but the one job some four miles from home and completed it within the hour. I just happened to be one of those jobs where nothing seemed to go according to plan, a simple task of fitting an extra power outlet in an adjacent bedroom from the one I had to take a supply. The walls were hollow, that is studded but the building, a prefabricated unit consisted of individual sections all bolted together. This meant that the wall through which I had to install the wiring had multiple separated layers! Nothing straightforward at all. Other niggling problems I could have done without served to make the task harder. Still, I had it done in the hour and soon was returning home. E had just finished her breakfast and was about to bake some more  ‘Appel strudel‘ when I got a call to do more work the following day, Tuesday. I had to go and purchase some materials for that job and by the time I had returned for the second time she was about to cook it. Now I wonder what gave her the idea to bake some more strudel? I think she is trying to improve her cooking skills after our recent trip to Vienna, not that she needs to do that for she is quite an accomplished pastry chef! I have to admit I was feeling a little tired after my lunch so I thought I might sit and rest but after an hour or so I simply had to get up and do something. I decided to lay a few more floor tiles in the wet room with a little help from E. I had thought that laying floor tiles was easier than fitting them to a wall but that is far from the case, it is more difficult. The strudel was nice by the way!

Shirley Anne

 

A day to remember

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Image representing Apple as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

Over the last week or so I had it in mind to mow the lawn as soon as I
had the chance. We have had rain lately and at this time of year the
weather turns damp overnight which leaves plenty of dew on the grass,
not ideal for mowing. However, on Saturday the weather was fine enough
but I didn’t really get the opportunity and hoped for a similarly nice
day on Sunday. The forecast looked very promising and indeed Sunday
turned out to be a really warm and pleasant day, great for mowing the
lawn in fact. I arose quite early but didn’t wish to start mowing before
10 o’clock thinking it might upset the neighbours so I didn’t start
until 10.30. E joined with me and whilst I was mowing the lawn she set
about tidying up in the greenhouses and sweeping the leaves that
cluttered the paths. She later swept up the grass cuttings that had
escaped the mower’s collection box. I don’t use the box when the weather
is warmer as the cuttings are drier and more easily removed with the
rotary sweeper. It meant that I had to empty the box regularly but even
so I finished the job with reasonable speed. Once the mower had been
stored away and the grass cuttings removed I decided to dig out the
potatoes that had grown in the raised bed between the greenhouses in
which we had planted strawberries. We didn’t plant the potatoes so they
must have grown from a few we had inadvertently left in the soil the
previous year. The harvest was about five pounds or two kilograms,
enough for a couple of meals, alright considering we hadn’t planted
them! I also took the opportunity to remove the half-dozen apples from the trees that I wasn’t able to reach the day before. On returning indoors we together swept and vacuumed the floor in one of the cellar rooms which we call the workshop as it has a bench and vice in there. There was dust on the floor from cutting some of the tiles with the ‘Abra’ file (which looks like a saw but is in fact a wire-shaped file in a saw frame), the majority were cut upstairs in the wet room using the tile cutter. We had lunch and then we peeled all the apples and cut them ready for cooking. We made two very large Apple Strudels, two large pies and what can only be described as an oversized apple-filled pasty! Two women working in a kitchen is usually a recipe for disaster, friction, argument and whatever else that might, dare I say it, upsets the apple cart! But no, we work very well together in the kitchen these days and we share in whatever tasks there are. I must say that we have been getting on well together in many ways over the last couple of months after a long spell of being not on speaking terms. I think E realizes now that she can be very nasty when she wants to be but it gets her nowhere. Life is far better and enjoyable when she is amiable, both for herself and for me too.

Shirley Anne

When the cat’s away……

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Bolton Town Hall, Bolton, Greater Manchester, ...

Bolton Town Hall, Bolton, Greater Manchester, England. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Another day at home but not entirely. E had plans to meet with a friend to spend the day, or most of it, in Bolton, a town some miles away in the same county. Something to do with their competition habit. She returned home late afternoon. Meanwhile I had my own plans but first I needed to go shopping, for materials what else? I hadn’t left the house when I got a call from a client who was desperate to have me go and check their electrical supply which had tripped leaving them without power. I drove to their house and waited five minutes for them to return home after they had taken their small grandson to school. They were very pleased to see me again after I had done some work for them a week or so earlier. It appeared this time that the main RCD unit had tripped whilst the clothes iron was being used and the iron was most likely at fault. They told me that they had trouble with the iron before and it probably needed replacing. It was pointless therefore to run a test on it, a new iron being so inexpensive to buy. They paid me for my time and asked me to go ahead with ordering some new lights for their bathroom, something they had mentioned they might have done when I last visited their house. I was then asked if I could supply and fit a separate distribution board for the lighting circuits too. Those two jobs will be done once the supplier has the special light fittings I have ordered. I stayed at their house for over an hour chatting with them. For some reason they have taken a shine to me and seem to enjoy my visits there. By now it was after 12 o’clock and I drove back into town to order the said fittings and to buy the materials I needed for home. On the way back home I decided to visit the pub for a meal and some time out from all the things I am doing at the moment at home and at work. When I got home I was still able to do some work on the wet room before E got back. The following day, Thursday, found me busy all morning in other people’s homes but before I went to work I prepared a Chilli-con-carne for my evening meal! During the afternoon E went out shopping with her mum again for the weekly food shop. I was very tired and told her that I would probably take the afternoon off but after she had left the house I got so bored and decided to install the plumbing to the proposed new shower in the wet room. I had just finished when E returned home. What did I do on Friday? Pretty much the same again, work for others in the morning and then for us at home. Not much going on in the garden now as it is finally raining after a long spell of dry weather. Summer is almost over and the mornings are bringing in the mist and fog……………

Shirley Anne

Rhubarb and Strawberries

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English: Rhubarb in Boston.

English: Rhubarb in Boston. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Strawberries picked

Strawberries picked (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rhubarb and strawberries, we have them both in the garden.  We have been picking some rhubarb for a few months and it seems the more we pick it the more of it grows! Obviously we only pick a little at a time and not too often. The strawberries on the other hand have only come into season these last few weeks but the harvest is plenty and we have had quite  a few punnets from the many plants growing in the plot. We have lost some to garden pests which have eaten their way into those berries near to the soil but not too many. Rhubarb stalks are pretty much safe from attack due to the nature of it though some of the leaves haven’t faired so well. I had been busy doing an electrical job all morning on Tuesday, came home and had my lunch, something I had left over from the day before. That was just as well because I didn’t feel much like cooking. After lunch I found myself having a somewhat extended ‘cat nap’. I guess I was tired! When I came to I discovered E had gone out. I was feeling refreshed so I went into the garden to do some gardening, clearing debris, lopping tree branches and that sort of thing when I noticed several bright red strawberries in the plot. Now E had picked some only a day or so ago but here they were, more of them ripe and ready so I fetched a container and filled it. Then I noticed how thick the rhubarb stalks were and I picked some of them too. I picked only enough rhubarb for myself as E doesn’t eat the stuff and I cooked it, letting it cool down before cleaning and cutting some strawberries then putting them with the rhubarb in a serving bowl. I topped it off with some freshly made custard before sitting down to enjoy it. Now you may think rhubarb and strawberries an unlikely combination and if you do then think again, they are made for each other and taste delicious together. This is especially so if they are served cold with ice cream, well I think so.

Shirley Anne

I get bored with it

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Braised Sausage & Beans

Braised Sausage & Beans (Photo credit: lynn.gardner)

For many years now I have enjoyed cooking at home, mostly mundane, run-of-the-mill stuff but in more recent times something more adventurous. Now I am not talking specialist dishes here but even so I can cook a good chilli, curry or Bolognese just like the rest. Basic dishes are the norm but what I like to do is experiment with them by trying to concoct something from what is available in the cupboard and fridge. Even the simplest of dishes like beans on toast (Mmmm… I love beans on toast) get the treatment. For instance have you tried finely chopping an onion, frying it then mixing it with the beans? Sounds awful but is in fact quite delicious, provided you like onions of course! Sometimes I won’t have carrots for a stew so I use some other vegetable such as capsicum or even sprouts! Yummy, I love sprouts! Often I will use peas and sweetcorn together with carrots. It doesn’t really matter very much what I use, it is the experiment and seeing what develops from it. I seldom make something I cannot eat though I have to say some dishes I don’t make again! It’s all about trying different things. If you think about it that is the way culinary recipes are born, by experimentation. How many of you have put raisins into porridge instead of sprinkling on sugar, or have used golden syrup to sweeten it instead? It isn’t rocket science to work things out but it is a matter of taste. I often go to the kitchen and spend quite some time preparing a meal and then don’t feel like eating it. I lose interest when it comes down to eating a meal after I’ve spent a long time in the kitchen. It appears I like cooking but have to force myself to eat what I’ve cooked sometimes. Perhaps it is just that I like cooking. I don’t get bored when cooking but I get bored when I am finished and am ready to put it on my plate. I think I could handle being a chef for this reason. I would be happy preparing food for someone else’s consumption. Perhaps I am not alone in this. Am I?

Shirley Anne