Friday, 30 January 2009

The gentle art of washing up

I wash up a lot, no two ways about it! I don't mind it in itself, just that's there's so much of it, but that's inescapable when you process a lot of food, cook and bake a lot, brew, make soap, etc etc. I have therefore evolved my washing up into a not totally unpleasant experience, and thought I'd share some thoughts with you all. I have no dishwasher, by the way, all done by hand.
First thing is to make the task as pleasant as possible. Hopefully your sink will have a view of some sort; mine looks out to the back garden - I can watch the wild birds feeding, see trees and plants, chickens and ducks when they're down near the house. I have a wrought iron plant stand underneth the window, and try to keep it stocked with flowering plants I can see whilst I'm working at the sink; I can also keep an eye on the weather for various reasons, eg washing drying on the line, etc. The sink - important that it's the right size for you; I have a large white Butler sink, sadly not the original which MrL dropped when re-furbishing that part of the kitchen a couple of years back, but a good replacement nonetheless. I have old taps, which are about to be replaced with old brass ones soon, I hope, but these are fine in the meantime. Draining - I have the original wooden boards here, but make sure there is plenty of room for draining dishes; choose a nice- to- look- at drainer if you use one of them; mine is wooden, brand new from the tip, still in its box.
Tools of the trade - again, I like nice things to use when doing this task; little wooden brush with replaceable heads - great for saucepans - nice dishlcoths, good washing up liquid, good efficient tea towels. I use Ecover if I buy, but am using homemade at the moment, will post the recipe later if you like. The other necessity is plenty of hot water; if there isn't much and the stove isn't up, I leave the washing up until there is, when I'm cooking and baking too, to make best use of the stove and heat. A washing up bowl is useful for just a couple of bits, to save water in filling a sink up. Again, choose one you like and will like to use.
I don't use rubber gloves as my hands are tough as old boots LOL - rarely get sore or cracked.
Fill your sink with water as hot as you can stand and a squirt of washing up liquid. Homemade liquid won't give you much bubble, but I find it does a good job anyway. Wash up in this order - glassware, cutlery, crockery, pots and pans. If you have a double sink, fill it with plain very hot water to rinse each item in before draining - prevents streaks and smears, and dries quickly. Stack washed dishes neatly, or place in drainer and leave to drain for a few minutes. Dry up straight away, or leave, as you wish. Cutlery benefits from immediate drying to prevent water spots and streaks, though. Buy the best quality tea towels you can afford - money well spent, or make your own from good linen or thick, absorbent cotton. Anything less will be like a limp rag after drying two cups and won't withstand the frequent washing required, and not worth the effort. Good quality cloths and tea towles will withstand frequent laundering too, and should last a long time.
Wipe down the draining boards/surfaces.
When finished, wipe around the sink, or give it a clean if it needs it. Finish off with a quick scoosh of cold water down the plughole to prevent bad smells from coming up through the drain. Periodically pop something down the drain too - I use soda crystals, just to help keep the drain clear. Some poeple like to dry their sink afterwards, but I don't usually bother - I'm happy if it's a)empty and b) clean! Finally, deal with the cloths and tea towels - into the wash if needs be, or hung up/spread out to dry.
I'm not a fan of plastic, but I do know there are a lot of nice things available now, especially the wacky rubber gloves you can get, and brightly coloured dish mops and brushes. If it makes the job more enjoyable, then go for it I say, and each to their own. Anything to make what can be dreary tasks more pleasant (although I would stop short of saying fun........LOL)

Sorry if I'm teaching grannies to suck eggs :), but all the above is borne of many years experience, both in domestic and commercial kitchens, and thought it might be interesting/useful to some.

Good news................

We had a letter yesterday from our energy supplier, Good Energy, to tell us of a reduction in our electricity prices, by 7.5% - a decent amount I thought. We haven't been with them long, but so far I'm impressed by their communications - letters and phone, etc, and efficiency. I hope it lasts :) Our unit rate has gone down from 16.32p/kWh to 15.09p/kWh

Thursday, 29 January 2009

My talented lad!

EJ took this photo yesterday, and I think it is really very good. I got him to print one out for me for framing. Not bad for 14!

(He can play it as well!)

Coffee wine

This is a good, inexpensive and easy wine to make, when there's not much fresh stuff about for the brew bucket. Beware, though, it's deceptively pokey!!

4 tablespoons good isntant coffee

1 gallon hot water

2 1/2 lbs granulated sugar

1 lemon

1 tablespoon activated dried yeast

Dissolve the coffee in a little boiling water and stir, then pour inot brewing vessel. Add warm water, sliced lemon and sugar, stir well to dissolve the sugar. When cooled to blood heat, add the yeast, cover and leave for 24 hours in a warm place. Strain out the lemon and put into a demi-john and ferment out; rack after 6 weeks, then leave for 6 months before bottling. Improves with a year's keeping.

Mine looked a bit scary this morning - I hope it was just the yeast working :0 LOL

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Quote for a wet Wednesday

"To know what you prefer instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you you ought to prefer, is to keep your soul alive"

R L Stevenson

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Had to show you this!

I made this yesterday - who could resist it? LOL

Monday, 26 January 2009

How to turn a collar

Quite often with men's shirts, the collar will wear through before the body of the shirt. I turn the collars on MrL's shirts, and usually get at least another year or so out of them, office, work and casual shirts.

Carefully undo the seaming where the collar is sewn into the neck.

Turn it over, ready to be reinserted into the opening made when you removed it

Pop it back in, and pin in place, through all thicknesses

Tack securely in place ready for sewing, remove the pins

Sew securely, remove tacking, and press well.

"New" collar, ready to go

Sheep and marmalade................

I got six jars of marmalade made, which I felt was enough for now. We still have a couple left from last year, and I got a pot in a present at Christmas too. I like trying other recipes, but a good Seville marmalade really is hard to beat. I've put the remaining half dozen oranges into the freezer "just in case " LOL Marmalade making is one of the great seasonal delights for me; this batch was done by hand, but I have an antique cast iron shredder specifically for marmalade oranges, which I do use. These days, people tend to like multi-funtional equipment (eg food processors, etc), but I tend towards a specific piece of equipment for a specific job. It makes the job more enjoyable and more complete for me, if a tad more washing up and storing! I treated myself to some posh tops and labels for this lot, but the jars are all recycled, some of them several times now. I don't think I've ever actually *bought* a jam jar in my life!

I did this litle cloth as I just couldn't resist the pattern! Even *I* think this one might be too nice to use :)

Link to pattern:

Sunday, 25 January 2009

How to make haggis

Here you go, should you wish, on this great day, the birthday of Rabbie Burns, the greatest of the Scottish poets.

Something, too, to ponder upon today:

"Oh that God the giftie gie us,

Tae see oorsels as ithers see us"


Burns at Ellisland:

This was his house in Dumfries: