Saturday, 9 January 2010

Saturday night popcorn

With the woodburner racked up to "hot" in view of the cold weather, Bean decided she'd like to have a go at popping some corn on the plate on the top, in a pan.We do have an electric popper, which is very good, but she wanted to try it out on the woodburner.It's now on its way, we're just waiting for the popping to begin..........
In the meantime, I just had to share this conversation with you:

B:"Where's the popcorn then?"
Me:"In the store room, in the cannister marked flour"
B::" R-i-g-h-t..............."

A couple of minutes pass.

B:"Can't find it! Where is it?" - from the depths of the store room......
Me:"I'll come through"

Through I go, to find Bean up on a chair, looking through the highest shelves. I point to the said cannister, indeed marked "flour", on the bottom shelf.

B:"That's not the cannister I expected it to be in, has it always been in that one?"

Me:"No, it used to be in the red and cream one marked "sugar" "

Much sighing and rolling of eyes from Bean, after retrieving the corn.

B:"What's in the read an cream one now, then?"
Me:"Coffee beans."

Got to

Friday, 8 January 2010

Some like it hot.....................

One of the best ways to stay warm is to get something hot inside you; as well as food, hot drinks are an excellent way of keeping up the warmth. There's tea and coffee, ofcourse, and hot chocolate, but sometimes you just want something a bit different. Here are my suggestions, mostly homemade.
A good idea is to fill a flask with boiling water so it's to hand; I keep the kettle on the hot end of the stove all the time when it's cold, so that does the same job.

HONEY AND LEMON; good for a boost, and helping with cold and sore throat symptoms - 1 tsp honey and juice of half a lemon, topped up with boiling water.
ELDER ROB; I make this in the summer, and it's an ideal drink for weather like this - plenty of vitamin C in there for colds, etc, and teh healing, soothing properties of the fruit itself. Dilute with boiling water and sweeten with a little honey if you like.
ELDERFLOWER AND HONEY; again, amde in the summer, it stores well in the freezer, and makes a nice lighter hot drink, adding honey and/or lemon juice if liked
BLACKCURRANT; well known for its vitamin content, this makes a good winter drink on its own. I make cordial every year, which is processed in a hot water bath and keeps well in the larder. Otherwise,a spoonful of jam in a mug of boiling water gives much the same effect, straining out the fruit if you like. Again, honey can be added.
ORANGE; simple fresh orange juice, topped up with boiling water.
MILK; 2/3 of a mug of milk, heated up, then add 1/3 boiling water and 1/2 tsp sugar - a very comforting drink, ideal just before bedtime.
HERB TEAS; buy teabags, or use any that are in the garden, or that you have dried and stored for future use.
BOVRIL, etc; a spoonful of Bovril, Marmite, bouillon powder or stock powder in a cup with boiling water makes a good hot, nourishing drink, something with a little more "bite" to it. Spice it up with a dash of vodka or sherry, Tabasco sauce, black pepper etc.
PLAIN WATER; sometimes all you want is the warmth, not necessarily the flavour, so a mug of hot water hits the spot well; add lemon juice if liked.
HOT TODDY; no discussion of winter drinks would be complete without this one! A measure of whisky in a mug, 1/2 tsp sugar, top up with boiling water.

I do buy the occasional bottle of cordial etc, and the ones by Bottle Green are my favourites at this time of the year.

These are two of the best hot - winter berries (fruity and clove-y) and ginger and lemon grass. They also do an elderflower one.Not the cheapest on the market, but as usual, you get what you pay for, and a little goes a long way.
Having said all that, sometimes all you want and need is a nice cup of tea - just make sure you're well stocked up with teabags. Imagine the horror of running out of tea - unthinkable!!!!!

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Poet's Calendar project

I have now re-started this, and intend to try my hardest to keep up with it during the coming year, and have 12 pieces of craft work to show for it at the end of it all. The whole thing got a bit de-railed last year, but I'm not giving up! I've made a good start so far with the spinning, looking forward to the next stage of the January component.

There is a working link in the sidebar to the blog if you want to follow along - take a look.

Cheese & onion pasties

This make a lovely quick supper, and can use up leftovers and spare bits from teh fridge.

Makes a dozen small ones, but size can be varied to suit.

Shortcrust pastry - use 1lb plain flour and 12 oz butter, cold water to mix. Make pastry, and cut into rounds with a saucer as a guide. Mix together mashed potato, grated cheese and a finely chopped onion, season well, then place filling on to each circle, in centre. Brush around edges with cold water, fold over and seal, press edges with tines of a fork. Prick with a fork and bake in a very hot oven for about 15 minutes until golden brown.

I tend to make them when I have left over mash to use up, it's perfect for these; teh cheese can be any sort - whatver needs using up, one type or a mix - blue chees would be nice for a change; onion can be red or white, or spring onion, you could add garlic too if you like.
I sometimes brush my pastry with beaten egg, but in the depths of winter when eggs are scarce, I don't do this.
I make these ones flat, so they're easy to distinguish form the Cornish ones, which I make in the traditional, crimped shape, that look like wee dinsosaurs.
Equally good hot or cold, good for packed lunches and picnics.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

When it snows.................

..............and it looks like this outside:

.........and this:

and your plants look like this: would be lovely to stay inside and spend the morning baking and cooking at the Rayburn - Fench onion soup, bread, Cornish and cheese & onion pasties, gooseberry crumble - and in between, have a nice hour in the sitting room spinning a new fibre for a new project, with plenty of hot tea to drink.

So I did. :)

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

MrsL's Twelfth Night toddy cake

This is really rather nice................. :)

6 oz butter
6 oz sugar
3 eggs
6 oz self raising flour
5 dessert spoonfuls of mincemeat
1 egg's worth or thereabouts of whisky
1 dried bean

Prepare a standard loaf tin (2 lb size), by buttering and flouring. Cream butter with sugar until fluffy, then beat in eggs. Add rest of ingredients, beat until well combined. Turn into prepared tin and hide the dried bean in the middle of it. Bake in a hot oven for 40 -45 minutes until well risen and dark golden brown; turn out and cool on wire rack.

Warn eaters of presence of bean!

This turned out really nicely - you can really taste the whisky, and the mincemeat was used in the spirit of Use It Up January!

Please see other post for releveance of bean!

Twelfth Night

Being the last day of Christmas before the return to work, Twelfth Night was originally a pagan festival, and was the cause of feasting and games; the final day of the Lord of Misrule's reign too.
A traditional Twelfth Night cake has a bean concealed within it - the finder is crowned King of the Bean.
I haven't made a Twelfth Night cake yet (oven is turned up, and I think I will, but my own version), but the decorations are all down and put away, the greenery removed to the otuside of the house too; it's considered bad luck not to have this done by now.

Off to find my bean! Will post my recipe later.

Identify your true heart's desire................

"He believes that each of us arrived here with this unique creative DNA inside us. If we are not doing that thing that is our innate mission, then, he feels, no matter how much money or status we might have, our lives will feel drained of their true colour. He believes that no amount of money or recognition can compensate you if you are not doing your life's passionate creative work; and if you are not doing it, you had better draw everything to a complete stop until you can listen deeply to your soul, identify your true heart's desire and change direction.It's that urgent."

(from The Tree House by Naomi Wolf)

Monday, 4 January 2010

In the deep midwinter............... is -7 here this morning, MrL reliably informed me after he'd been out to empty the ash from the stove _ I was still in bed! Definitely a socks on and two t-shirt day today!! I have to go out and feed and water the livestock in a minute - much lugging about of frozen drinkers and feeders iced to the solid earth. Still, it's a good winter here, plenty of cold to chase away the bugs and things.
Hope everyone stays warm!
Today sees the end of the holidays - OH back to work, Bean back to college, so it's just me and EJ for now. Mondays are for washing and housework, and a bit of baking, so I'll fire up the Rayburn in a minute so it's ready - soup, cake and flapjacks, something clever with pheasant for supper too. Full stomachs and warm bodies, just what's needed today.
Later I have some letters to write, so might venture up to the post box, will see how I feel and how icy the pavements are.

I've just noticed, for the first time since we've been in the house - ice on the inside of the windows; no idea last night - woodburner thumping out a good heat and thick curtains - I don't look behind them unless I have to! Will be gone soon, as it's cold enough this morning to light the woodburner early. MrL brought in a good stack of wood and logs yesterday, so I don't have to deal with that.
I'm feeling much better the past few days, almost back to my normals elf, but still taking it a bit easy physically.
Feeling ready to go and face the new year head on!

Sunday, 3 January 2010

A good start!

The new year got off to a good start today, vis a vis the Year of Possibilites list! We went to one of my favourite garden centres yesterday, and they happened to be having a sale on a lot of plants. One thing on my list was to plant a couple more trees, thinking I'd plant the two or so waiting in pots in the back garden. I've been wanting more hollies for the garden, but had to wait until MrL came round - he has always said how he disliked them, stemming I think from having to pick up prickly leaves in days gone by. He did a big job for me the other day - digging out a huge rubus cockburnianus that had got far too big for its boots and was threatening imminent takeover of the western world........... With that gone, he was able to move my little holly which was getting a bit overshadowed by the Portuguese laurel beside it, so the holly was replanted where the rubus had come out. He did admit it was a nice tree - one of the native, dark glossy green ones, found as a tiny seedling by the back door a few years back, potted up and nurtured. So - strike while the horticultural iron is hot - I bought two ilex yesterday. One is Maiden - the golden and green one with the berries on the right in the picture. The other is JC van Tol, shown on the left - plain green leaves but with attractive purple stems. The Maiden was full price, so I paid for that one, MrL paid for the Van Tol, reduced to 3.00 from 10.00; also shown in the photo is my forest pansy, a tree I've been wanting for years, reduced from 27.50 to 2.50, and a well grown and strong olive tree reduced from 15.00 to 3.00.
Would have been rude to have left them there, no? lol
So, if the ground unfreezes for long enough, that may be my job for the week. Meanwhile, I'll enjoy thinking about where I might shoehorn them in!
Also on the "getting there" front, I caught up on the ironing - 2 1/2 hours, two huge baskets full, but done with breaks in between. Happy to report all up to date on the ironing front, which is good.
I'm just about to unfrock the tree and take the decoratiosn down, then it's back to the routine tomorrow, holidays over for now.
It's so nice to have a whole new year stretch out in front of me, I hope to make the most of it.
Forest pansy tree: