Oh what a lovely Sunday

It was so nice to be lying there in bed on Sunday morning  knowing there was absolutely no reason not to! Usually I am up and about not long after I awake and that is more often than not early. I had nothing planned for the day so I took the opportunity to stay put under the warm duvet for just that little while longer before getting up. As it was I didn’t get downstairs until after ten-thirty and skipped my usual breakfast of oats or muesli and fruit having a slice of toast and a coffee instead. I made up the shortfall at lunch instead! Anyway, what was I going to do until then? I decided I wanted to do some baking and cakes would be my preference. I have to say I have a weakness for cakes and like to treat myself to one occasionally. E is also fond of cakes but she has her own preferences in what she likes and they often conflict with mine, though I will eat almost any cake variety. This time it would be cup cakes (fairy cakes, butterfly cakes etc.). Essentially Victoria Sponge mix but baked in small paper or metal cups. As I usually do I prepared twice the quantity for they will keep for a few days when wrapped-up properly. Having prepared the mixture I divided it into two halves and mixed desiccated coconut into one of the portions. I like coconut whereas E hates it! She is like that with many foodstuffs. The cakes took a mere thirty minutes to bake in the oven and soon we were able to eat one. Delicious! Just like mother used to bake……ahem. Actually my mom was a really good cook and baker of cakes of all kinds. I suppose my passion for cakes and for baking them stem from those days. One particular type of cake she excelled at baking was a Christmas cake, a really rich fruit cake with molasses and brandy in it. She wouldn’t let us anywhere the kitchen whilst it was baking in the oven, and that could take hours! Even some of the fruit cakes I have baked can take between one and two hours. It was such a lovely day on Sunday (4th) and very much like a Spring day, warm in  the sunshine with almost totally blue skies. Why did I need to do anything if I had no need to?

Shirley Anne

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Dough and grow

There are times when feeling at a loose end I turn to baking something. Usually the idea to bake something has been in my thoughts for days but I hesitate to do it for one or two reasons, I am too tired, I am involved doing something else or I haven’t the time. Over the last couple of years I have taken a greater interest in baking and have slowly improved doing it. Sometimes there have been mistakes of course but those who say they never make mistakes usually don’t make anything! Once in a while I will take on a new challenge, make something I haven’t attempted before. A year or more ago I found a recipe for making doughnuts and set about making some. Doughnuts though are not baked, they are fried in deep fat or oil. The results were fair, the doughnuts were edible but could have been much better. Since then I hadn’t bothered making any more until recently when I discovered another recipe using different ingredients. I decided to try it. It was Saturday and E had gone to her afternoon meeting and I had time on my hands. Whereas the previous recipe used bicarbonate of soda this one called for yeast to be used instead and the process took much longer. However I made the doughnuts but sadly they were somewhat of a failure having not risen enough they turned out far too heavy. E and I had a great laugh regarding the escapade, me suggesting they would fit in well in the garden rockery and she suggesting we give them to a neighbour to practice his golf with. Oh well, back to the drawing board I suppose. On reflection it was all about the yeast but I think the next attempt will be using the original recipe instead, at least they tasted and felt like doughnuts! It was now Monday and E again was out during the afternoon shopping with her mom. I had spent an hour exercising on the gym equipment in the morning but as it was such a fine day I decided to put on my overalls and get into the garden to do some work. The first thing I wanted to do was to spread some mulch onto the flowerbed by the greenhouses….

As you can see I got it done but there was no more mulch in the bin (below) suitable to spread anywhere else.

After that job I swept up the pathways and placed the leaves on top of what was left in the compost bin. It will be many months before there would be any usable mulch or compost to take from it. It will get filled once the grass starts growing and is cut. Things are beginning to grow again even though it is still only January and I have already dug out a few bluebells. As the weather improves (stops raining) I will be able to get more maintenance done in the garden and if it is raining too hard I can always make some doughnuts!

Click on pictures to magnify.

Shirley Anne

Bucket full

Dig Dug: Digging Strike
Dig Dug: Digging Strike (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is a great feeling to be at that stage in life whereby you can pretty much do as you please as far as what you do in a day. At weekends I don’t do any electrical work unless in an emergency so if I don’t wish to do anything at all over the weekend then I don’t. On Sunday I was in no hurry to get up but I arose as soon as I awoke. After a shower and getting dressed I sauntered downstairs just before ten o’clock and had a bowl of fruit with a little muesli and milk. I had been thinking about going for a walk or maybe dining out at the pub to wile away the afternoon but by two o’clock I wasn’t feeling particularly well kind of like the way you feel when you have a bad cold. I decided to remain at home and have a late lunch instead, after all I had made a vegetable and chicken stew the previous day so there was no need to do any cooking. To kill a bit of time before lunch I made another ‘slab’ of rock cake because the other had been so nice but had all been eaten. After lunch I was feeling much better. The day before I had experienced problems getting my mobile phone connection. No matter where I was in the house or the gardens the message read ‘No network available’. As I was home it didn’t bother me too much because callers could contact me over the house phone if it was urgent. I wanted to contact a new friend just to say hello and couldn’t reach her even by text. I tried again on Sunday afternoon and suddenly everything was back to normal but I had a lot of catching up to do answering messages that had been left, mostly from people wanting electrical work done. I was able to contact my friend too and learned she was in the south of the country tending to her mother. Anyway before my phone connection had been restored I had been out in the front garden checking for a signal and noticed more bluebells growing in the right-hand flowerbed again. I had to dig them out, I couldn’t leave them for another day, they had to go! It was only a few days earlier I had been digging out bluebells in the same bed. They are a pain in the proverbial to put it mildly. As I was fetching the kneeling stool which I had stored in the greenhouse I noticed another bluebell in the flowerbed  by the greenhouses which I dug out once I had finished in the front garden. Thinking I had found them all I began to put the equipment away but lo and behold there were more, then more in the next bed. Finally I decided to dig out the couple I had seen in the flowerbed next to the patio whilst I was at it but didn’t get that far. On the way there I saw more in the ‘Mound’ which I started to remove. As I dug them out more appeared with each dig with the trowel or fork and before I knew it I had a bucket full of them! At last I got to the flowerbed next to the patio and dug out a couple there. I have never seen so many bluebell bulbs and plants in such relatively small areas, even rabbits don’t ‘breed’ so profusely! I did say there would be more and more and more and more………..yawn!

Shirley Anne

No apparent reason

Honey
Honey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I had another restless night on Tuesday through to Wednesday broken into three sessions by visits to the little girl’s room as they say. My sleep was very shallow and as is often the case my thoughts were all over the place. I seem to be good at thinking things through when I ought to be sleeping instead. I hastily point out that for the majority of times I do sleep well. I was wondering therefore why it was that I’d had a restless night having worked hard during the day. Very odd but I guess I had more on my mind than I thought I had. There seemed no other reason for my experience. I went to bed in good health but found I had a bit of a sore throat in the morning. Could it be the onset of a cold or even worse, the ‘flu? Having said in a recent post that I generally enjoy good health it proves that these conditions can affect anyone at any time. The sore throat wasn’t severe and didn’t get any worse during the day. In any case I was taking honey to sooth it. I often use honey as a sweetener in coffee which I drink a lot of during the day so I suppose that extra honey helped. My only electrical work for the day was to replace a faulty room thermostat in a house across town so I was back at home around ten o’clock. I wanted to get into the garden though only to dig out the bluebells I had seen the day before, those which had revealed themselves in ground I had already worked weeks before and had obviously missed. There will be more. The morning was fairly damp so I put off doing that until the weather improved as I didn’t wish to aggravate my sore throat or encourage the onset of something worse. I decided to do a little baking so I made a rock cake. I use the singular because I baked the cake in slab form rather than individual cakes. It is an easier method and allows cutting a slice to suit your desire. The rock cake recipe is very similar to that of scones but I think they taste nicer than scones because they are cakes and sweeter. Neither scones nor cakes last long in our household as both E and I love them. She almost never bakes at home these days but she sure eats whatever I bake. Well I was just about to have lunch when I received a call to check a couple of suspected faulty lighting switches in a house two miles away. I put lunch on hold and went to do the work. I was back home a half-hour later. E was eating her lunch and I joined her. As I was parking the van in the garage I noticed there were another two bluebells in one of the front flowerbeds! I had removed quite a number of them only recently. After lunch I put on my gardening clothes and dug them out before returning to the rear garden and digging out more, the ones whose positions I had marked the day before. There were four positions with a number of bluebells in them but the fourth and last position had much more, around thirty of them. How I missed them first time around I cannot say. As I have said, it will be an ongoing task checking for bluebells for yet a while.

Shirley Anne

A day of two halves

Shortcrust pastry recipe, step 6

 

I actually woke up long before the alarm would ring as I normally do but had not done for the preceding few days. I was ready for work. I had but the one job a couple of miles away which turned out far easier than I thought it might. Nice to have easy jobs at any time but especially on Mondays! I was paid a little extra for the work which was also nice. I had to pay a visit to the electrical supplier in order to collect the LED light unit that hadn’t arrived on Friday as expected. I was hoping it would now be there for me to collect as it was only a little after ten o’clock. Deliveries usually arrive any time between nine-thirty and eleven-thirty but I needn’t have been concerned as it had arrived early. I made another purchase for my van stock whilst I was there. I would be installing the light unit on Tuesday morning as arranged and as I had no other work I returned home. I made E and myself a cup of coffee but had to take hers to the top of the house where she was working in her new workshop. I returned downstairs but chose to sit out on the patio to drink my coffee. When I had finished I walked around the garden for a while but stopped by the apple trees. There were a lot of apples on the two trees but many of them were too small to bother with. Even so I decided to pick some of the largest ones and put them in a basket. I didn’t count them but I estimated I had picked thirty to forty. A similar amount still hang on the branches but I doubt we’ll be picking them. They are eating apples, that is they are sweet enough to eat straight from the tree but we usually put them in pies.

Smulpaj med äpple.

Before lunch then I began peeling apples and cutting them, placing them into a pot filled with water until I was ready to use them. My next job was to make some short crust pastry which I then put into a plastic bag before putting it into the fridge until after lunch. After lunch I made a couple of pies and popped them in the oven. I hadn’t made enough pastry for use with all the apples as E had purchased some ready-made pastry many months ago and had stored it in the freezer. I wanted to use that pastry for the other pies I would be making but I wouldn’t be able to it until it had thawed, which would be the next day. The cooked pies can be frozen of course so that we do not have to eat apples pies every day!

Shirley Anne

Wintry weather

I was going through one of my phases of not being bothered or interested in anything and it led me to lie in bed for hours on Saturday morning. I simply didn’t want to get out of bed. I wasn’t tired, I’d had a good night’s sleep and had actually woken by eight. It was almost twelve-thirty by the time I arrived downstairs. So that was breakfast missed. I didn’t much feel like eating anything but I had to eat something. I decided to prepare a chicken and vegetable stew, one of my favourite meals as it is very healthy and tasty too. When I make it I do it in quantity and can get three meals out of it, four if I have a smaller portion but it is the kind of meal I call ‘moreish’, a small portion just doesn’t cut it. As I was preparing the food I couldn’t help but notice the sound of hail on the windows and for a while everywhere began to turn white…first-sign first-sign-2-jpgIt didn’t stay that way as the hail turned to rain after a short time. I wondered if this was the first sign of a colder winter ahead. I was thankful to be indoors in the warmth but I needed something to occupy myself. First of all I had some of the stew for my meal. It was by now two-thirty. E had gone to her monthly meeting and would be away for hours. I have been checking for any air in the radiators on a regular basis now that the heating is switched on. E’s workshop is at the top of the house so any air in the system naturally migrates up there which means the radiator in the room doesn’t get warm if I don’t bleed out the air. It needed bleeding which took minutes to do. The radiator in the bedroom we refurbished early in the year had been left valved-off as the room isn’t in use but I usually allow a little water to pass through just to keep the chill out of the room though it doesn’t get too cold because of its southerly aspect. I discovered it wasn’t warm in the least even after I had checked for trapped air. I opened the valves fully and still the radiator remained cold. I will need to address that problem when I get the opportunity though I think that may be next year if it is more than simply an air-lock in the pipes. I went downstairs and decided to do some baking, one of my other favourite ‘hobbies’. This time it was a fruit cake.Rich Fruit Cake Whilst it was baking I prepared a scone mix and baked the scones an hour later when the cake was done. E returned home after five o’clock and knew instantly that I had been baking. I love the smell of baking in a house, it makes it feel more homely. Just nice when it is cold and wintry outside.

Shirley Anne

Summer baking

English: They baked up into a wonderful tender...
They baked up into a wonderful tender and flaky scone! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As usual I rest on Sundays, that is I rest from the work, my usual occupation throughout the week I might do other things instead but I wouldn’t call them work, more like hobbies or leisure activities. Mowing the lawn could be an example, it is basically going for a walk whilst pushing a mower! Seriously though I would count baking or cooking meals not really work unless they were a part of my normal work during the week. If for example I were a chef or cook or ran a bakery business I would consider doing the same things on Sunday to be work and not leisure. So it was I found myself gazing out of the kitchen window and looking around the garden and wondering what I could be doing with the day. Work wasn’t an option. I had been cooking fresh pears and preparing a meal and was washing the crockery and pans by hand as I usually do . Although we have a dishwasher I seldom use it. I started thinking about baking cakes, something I had been doing a lot of through the colder months, more of a comforting pleasure than anything else. Sunday wasn’t a particularly warm and sunny day though it wasn’t cold, it was the wind which made being outside less inviting. It felt more like Autumn than Summer and staying indoors was at times preferable. Usually I don’t bake much during the warmer months but I decided whilst the midday weather was trying to improve I would bake a cake. However I changed my mind and took the easier option of baking some scones instead. I hadn’t lost the touch but still had to refer to the cookery book to remind myself of quantities and temperatures. If I am baking often naturally I remember how much of each ingredient to use though even so I have to double-up as I tend to make twice the number of scones or make a cake twice the size. I had one of the scones soon after they were baked and just as E entered the kitchen. Funny how she turns up when the baking is done but then I do bake nice things.

Shirley Anne

Scone for the day

English: Soft fruit and cream teas, Bake Farm ...
Soft fruit and cream teas, Bake Farm After you have picked your soft fruit you can get tea and scones in the garden. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been enjoying some extra time in bed recently for a change. Usually I am up early each day with work in mind. Old habits die-hard they say and that is so true for me. Having spent years getting up early it is difficult to do otherwise except if I have been working that hard I need the extra sleep. I wouldn’t have it any other way and I wonder why people would choose to waste the day lying in bed. Anyway it was Sunday, a time for leisure and a break from work but I had to do something. It wasn’t that good on Sunday morning as far as the weather was concerned so I remained indoors. I decided I would bake some scones as I hadn’t baked scones for quite some time. I had been baking cakes instead! It doesn’t take long to bake scones, no more than ten to fifteen minutes and even the preparation should take no longer. In all they can be made in about thirty minutes. It was almost noon by the time I had them baked and cooled down enough to bag and store them. I hadn’t had breakfast but only a banana and a fruit drink so I was ready for a meal. Each day I set myself the goal of eating at least eight to ten of the recommended ‘five a day‘ items of fruit and vegetables to maintain good health but I usually eat twice that amount and sometimes more every day. The powers that be now tell us that the five a day recommendation is the minimum we should aim for. I have always eaten plenty of fruit and vegetables throughout my life but I have also eaten lots of foods considered to be non beneficial too! Over recent years I have cut out most of the unhealthy things I once ate. I am not sure where scones fall on the spectrum but I am sure they are quite harmless. Anyway E and I will enjoy eating them, in fact not long after I had made them E had one. She was about to have a snack before taking her mom to see another of her mom’s friends a few miles away and she ate one of them. I wouldn’t eat one until after my lunch.

Shirley Anne

Something to do

Static & Silence
Static & Silence (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My readers will know by now that I am somewhat of a restless person, always looking for something to do. I rest on Sundays in so much as I don’t work at my usual job or any project I might be doing at home. I am however open to ‘leisure work’ or I call it ‘pleasure work’, though that might hint at all work being a pleasure to me. In fact I do enjoy work but the only work I might do on a Sunday apart from preparing meals and washing dishes is a little gardening and I do emphasize it is minimal. I might mow the lawn, dig out the occasional weed, potter about or water the garden with a hose. Although April thus far hasn’t been all that wet we have had some rain but over the last week or so we haven’t had much to speak of at all. Twice this past week I have had to resort to using the hose because the plants have needed the water. Sunday was one of those days. I got the hose out even though a little rain was in the forecast and I watered the gardens front and back. It was quite a cold day on Sunday and the wind made it seem that much colder. I was glad to return indoors. During the afternoon it did rain, twice but the amount that fell was insignificant and would not have been enough for the gardens so it was just as well I had used the hose pipe. I get restless as I said and late in the morning I decided I would bake another fruit cake just to relieve the boredom so that is what I did. What does one do when there isn’t much to do? My problem is I get bored too easily I suppose and that is why I take on projects at home if I am not out working. I am always looking for something to do but on Sundays I am restricted to household chores if I cannot get out into the garden and if I want something to do. Playing the guitar and watching television doesn’t count though at times I am too tired to do anything else!

Shirley Anne

Going nowhere fast

Physical bullying at school, as depicted in th...
Physical bullying at school, as depicted in the film Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What a restless night I had on Wednesday-Thursday! I had gone to bed around 10.30 and woke at 1.30 and again at 4.00 for toilet visits. On the second visit I was so restless I ended up washing clothes! I had been dreaming about a bully doing what bullies do and this one had been taunting and annoying me: I was a youngster in the dream. In real life I was bullied quite a lot (in my pages above) but in this dream I’d had enough and I challenged the bully. He was always trying to goad me into fighting with him but this time I turned, grabbed one of his hands which was clenched and twisted it with all my might until he had to give up in submission. He didn’t bother me again, at least in the dream! I returned to bed and fell asleep, not wakening until just before 8 o’clock. I had no work scheduled and nothing to do at home that could be done. After breakfast I played guitar and went for a walk but on my treadmill as I wanted to be available should anyone want my services. Nobody did. Just before lunch E’s nephew called and he climbed the scaffolding tower to inspect the roof. He climbed the other scaffolding tower to inspect the other end of the roof too and talked about what needed to be done. ‘At last’, I thought but progress is slow and going nowhere fast. I shouldn’t complain, I know it will all get sorted in the end. Earlier in the day I received a call from the company who will be installing the bedroom furniture. They will deliver the materials on Friday (two days ago) but will not now be able to begin the work until this coming Thursday instead of Tuesday. Two steps forward and one step back. E went out to do the shopping and I decided to spend the time baking a rich fruit cake. Rich Fruit Cake 3 Mar 16I should have known there would be a setback as nothing seems to be simply going forward. I had the mixture ready to receive the eggs but guess what? I only had one egg! I was not using the recommended number of eggs which would be eight of the standard size but I intended to use only four though of a large size. I called my neighbour to see if she had any eggs but alas she hadn’t any either. I put everything aside until E returned later knowing she would have bought eggs. I invited my neighbour round for a coffee and a chat. E didn’t return until almost six o’clock at which time I finished the cake mixture and hurriedly put the cake in the oven. It would take four and a half hours to bake as it required a fairly low oven temperature (300 F or 155 C) but as the oven is fan assisted the temperature was set even lower at 140 C. It would be almost eleven o’clock before the cake was baked. You cannot hurry the process, a bit like the work around the house at the moment!

Shirley Anne

Half done

The scaffolding company arrived at nine-thirty as they had planned. They stayed for two and a half hours and had to leave but they returned two hours later for an hour and a half, four hours in total. However they would have to return on Friday morning they said so that they could erect the scaffolding at the second position on the other side of the house. This is what they have erected so far (Thursday evening)….pics 1162

A little less scaffolding than that which we had there in 2010. That scaffolding continued over the garage in this picture and then along the whole front of the house. It seems a lot of steel work for a leaking roof doesn’t it? Unfortunately it is necessary. What you see here is around 12 metres in height. The second position will be at the opposite side of the house to the left in this picture and should span the whole side of the house to the same height over the other garage. I will attach a picture in another post. I had arisen early and decided to clean out that garage of unwanted items such as the many large plant pots of various sizes. I put those into the small greenhouse with those already in there. We have so many pots we could open a gardening centre! The other items like mowers, wheelbarrows and furniture only needed to be stored properly to be out-of-the-way and of course the floor got swept too. For scaffolding to be erected on the garage roof there has to be a support beneath the roof and that was the main reason for my tidying up the place. As I write this in the evening the house is empty as E has gone to see her mom and I am waiting to take the cake I am baking out of the oven. I had prepared a scone mixture and had baked them an hour ago. The cake is a rich butter cake with desiccated coconut and a drop of vanilla essence in it. E doesn’t like coconut but asked if I would bake some scones for her to eat instead. She didn’t want a cake. How could anyone not want cake?

Shirley Anne

The hats I wear

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

Fairy cakes

English: Fairy cakes on an oven tray freshly r...
Fairy cakes on an oven tray freshly removed from the oven. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For the second day this week I hadn’t any offers of work, that is work that I would take on for so many people have called asking me to do far more work than I am prepared to do. I am 70 years old and therefore don’t want to do much anyway. So on Tuesday I was once again at a bit of a loose end and looking for something to do at home. The weather looked as if it was going to be reasonably fine, between the showers that is and therefore the prospect of working outdoors wasn’t too good. I began nailing down some of the loose floorboards in the bedroom but soon had that done except for three which I want to screw down instead for they might need lifting in the future. Soon after I had done that E came into the room and began to paint the woodwork. I made us both a coffee and then I put on my overalls and went into the rear garden to make a start at pruning back the apple trees. I had to stop a couple of times and dash into the greenhouse to get out of the rain and hailstone showers. Finally I had all the branches that needed cutting laid out on the lawn and then I set about cutting them and stacking them against the wall. Unfortunately the weather proved too much and I left-off the work and returned indoors. My feet felt as if they were frozen but as I was wearing gloves my hands didn’t feel as cold. It was nice to step inside the boiler room out of the biting wind and get warmed up. I can always continue with that work as the weather allows but there are other trees which need the same treatment to some extent so it may take some time. It was now lunchtime and I prepared my lunch though E carried on painting and didn’t come downstairs until I had finished eating. I had prepared her lunch so there was nothing for her to do. We watched a little television but I got restless and went into the kitchen to make some cakes, fairy cakes. They don’t take long to prepare and bake so they were done in about an hour and ready for decorating with icing and whatever else took my fancy. I am turning into a rather experienced baker of cakes lately but what else is a lady to do when all other work is being kept at bay?

Shirley Anne

It all started in innocence

Victoria sponge cake
Victoria sponge cake (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As is usual I take Sunday for my day of rest, that is I do no work other than perhaps a little gardening, weather permitting, or some minor tasks about the house. I suppose that will be the same for many people too. I had made up my mind to bake a cake of sorts, anything that I had never baked before just for the experience. Over the last couple of years especially, I have gained an interest in baking when once I did very little of it. Obviously I never had much time to bake for I was always too busy doing something else, some domestic project or at my electrical work. These days I am finding I have more time on my hands which allows me to bake if the fancy takes me. Since my new-found hobby began I have baked scones, rich fruit cakes, rich butter cakes and have made doughnuts too, not much in the way of pastry, though I have done some. Ealier in the week I had baked two rich butter cakes, one with coconut and one without. I love coconut but E doesn’t. I decided I would make ‘Parkin’ so I went to the cupboard to sort out the ingredients and discovered I had everything except some mixed spices. Rather than make something that lacked one of the ingredients I opted to bake a Victoria sponge cake instead as I hadn’t made one beforehand though it is quite similar to the rich butter cake but far lighter and using fewer eggs. Whilst looking for all the ingredients I ended up clearing out one cupboard of its accumulated packages, jars, tins and oddments and sorted them into plastic containers. This makes for easier storage and location and better use of the cupboard space. You have to remember I live with someone who is not noted for her tidiness when it comes to storing things away and everything gets mixed-up. Finally I got all things sorted and found all the ingredients for the sponge cake and set about making it, actually two cakes for I was making a layered cake with a jam and whipped cream filling. I had to make a square cake for we don’t have small round baking tins, something I shall have to correct in the near future but square or round I was going to make the cake! I am getting used to the new cooker now and setting the temperature to suit the recipe’s recommended temperature has become easier. Temperature controls on domestic cookers are never that accurate, as an electrician I am aware of this but on the whole they are accurate enough. There are so many variables to contend with when baking and straying too far from the recipe’s weights, measurements and temperatures can change everything. In everything we do, experience counts. So I made the cakes and left them to cool off before removing them from their containers. I poured some double cream into a bowl and whipped it up using an electric mixer until it was stiff and spreadable. I chose one of the cakes to be the base and spread it with strawberry jam them topped it with a thick layer of cream. I spread a little jam on the other cake before placing it on top. Finally I gave it a dusting of icing sugar and ‘hey presto’ a Victoria jam and cream-filled sponge cake.

Shirley Anne

Just sitting here

It is now two-thirty on Saturday afternoon. Somehow I managed to get an extra lie in bed this morning but once up I didn’t feel like having breakfast even though it was still only nine-thirty when I came downstairs. I had a glass of fresh fruit juice, not the concentrate but the real stuff, and a short while after, a coffee was all I wanted. Usually it is porridge, sultanas, blueberries and fruit juice but once in a while I just don’t bother. I was sitting at my computer and about to check my emails and things when the mobile phone rang. The guy on the other end of the line sounded rather desperate and wanted me to call round to sort out a small electrical problem for him. I had been to his house before some months ago, probably a year so I remembered roughly where it was. He had great difficulty in describing the problem and he talked that much I couldn’t get a word in edgewise to let him know I would drive over. His house is twelve miles or more distant in another town. I had to get my son to move his car so I could get the van out of the garage. He is over for a day or so trying to get his car sold which is parked on our driveway. Soon I was on my way. I parked the van and went to the rear of the property as instructed and as I approached the rear door I remembered in more detail the house itself. I have to say I don’t know how some people can live in such squallor as this house was. The rear door led into a small room which was supposedly the kitchen though you would never know because of the floor to ceiling rubbish stacked in there and I mean floor to ceiling! An open door led from there into a lounge (?) being used as a bedroom and a storage room. It too was filled with all sorts of paraphernalia which left about one square metre of floor space on which to get about. Another door behind and to the left of the bed was slightly ajar and it led into the hallway and the rest of the house but it couldn’t be used as a means to do that. There was too much junk in front of it not to mention the bed so it couldn’t be opened more than a few centimetres. To gain access to the rest of the house the front door has to be used. His problem with the electric was an old 5 amp power point whose switch had failed and also one of its terminals. An example is shown below.

M (15 A version of Type D BS546)
M (15 A version of Type D BS546) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There was no earthing wire to it either which meant anything plugged into it would never be safe. Into this power socket he had plugged a six-way 13 amp multiplug and again into that another one! As I didn’t have a replacement 5 amp socket I could not reinstate the power at that point and in any case I informed him that in no way could he or should he be using the 5 amp socket for his power requirements anyway and that I had to leave the faulty one disabled for safety reasons. Now he has no choice but to use an alternative. There was a 13 amp power socket available a couple of metres away in the kitchen which he would have to use with the proper extension lead. What the house really needs is a complete rewire of course and I told him so. It is however unlikely that he will opt for that solution. As it stands a rewire would be an extremely difficult thing to accomplish for anyone brave enough to take it on unless the house was cleared out of all its junk. He paid for my time and I hope my advice and I drove back home for lunch. After cooking myself a meal I started to do some baking. E was about to go to her monthly group meeting where she would have lunch and I would be left at home alone to do my own thing. I decided on a new recipe, one I hadn’t tackled previously, a banana and honey tea cake. Ingredients, brown sugar, soft margarine, honey, self-raising flour, eggs, bananas.and cinnamon or nutmeg for seasoning. The resultant mix was somewhat sloppy but would firm up in the oven, hopefully. With the experiences I have been having with our oven temperature settings I decided to bake at a lower temperature but for a longer time. Even so I had to keep checking in the later stages of baking. At the time of writing this I have yet to taste the outcome but it looks alright though a little dropped now it has cooled down. Whilst the cake was in the oven I took ‘Robbie’ upstairs to my bedroom. If my readers will remember ‘Robbie’ is our robotic vacuum cleaner, not my fancy man! After a half-hour or so I moved him to another bedroom and then the hallways upstairs. I returned him downstairs to give him a thorough clean whilst the cake stood on a rack cooling down. Shortly after E returned home. It was now 4.30. That was the gist of my Saturday up until early evening. I could have gone out for the afternoon instead as it was such a fine and sunny day on Saturday but I guess I am somewhat more of a homely type of girl these days. (I do go out sometimes, honest).

Shirley Anne