Thursday 30 September 2010

Save Our Scraps!

Delia Smith’s recipe for Bread and Butter Pudding calls for double cream and candied orange peel. Alastair Hendy’s requires eight egg yolks, and he soaks his raisins in rum. Mine requires leftover baguette, milk left in the jug, and the dried fruit at the bottom of the storage jar!


I’m working hard to recycle leftovers into nutritious meals [see here]

love food hate waste logo

If it doesn’t have whiskers, or blue spots, and if it doesn’t smell bad, then it is probably edible. It can be saved, and then served!

Older readers among you may recognise this book

redemption hymnal

I am wondering if there is a gap in the market for this title…


My ‘More-With-Less’ Mennonite cookbook ends each chapter with a section called “Gathering Up The Fragments”and my Shirley Goode book has a recipe called “Fatima’s Fishcakes” – which uses left over loaves and fishes

What’s your best recipe for using up the scraps?

Wednesday 29 September 2010

Oh My Tripe And Trollibags!

I thought trollibags meant these…


…but according to my calendar of forgotten English, it is a Norfolk word for intestines!


And, allegedly, East Anglians say “Oh my tripe and trollibags!” when more refined people would say “Oh my goodness!” I do not recall ever hearing this said in Norfolk – and would be grateful if any of you out there can confirm this wonderful phrase.


It was very satisfying to be able to shout “tripe and trollibags!” at the Today Programme. [Perhaps it is because trollibags and Milibands have a vague similarity!] Bob is away at The Hayes**, and Chris Evans has temporarily deserted his Breakfast Show, so I am listening to Radio 4 again for a few days.

[** this is a Christian Conference Centre in Derbyshire – and he is at two consecutive conferences, so away all week. I have no idea where Chris Evans has gone]

Is “OMT&T!” an acceptable expression to use in school, do you think? Liz once had a primary teacher who was fond of yelling “Hell’s Bells and Buckets Of Blood!” and that never seemed quite professional to me.

Tuesday 28 September 2010


Then Jesus said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." Luke 12;15

It is all too easy to get overwhelmed by stuff. Wanting it, buying it, hoarding it. It is all too easy to justify ‘stuff-accumulation’ habits.


It is six months since the end of Lent, and I never did get round to posting about my ‘Lenten Giveaway Challenge’. The idea was that instead of giving up, I would try, every day of Lent, to give something away. The thing was, people kept giving back to me.

So despite the fact that  during the 40 days of Lent, I managed to donate the following items [to family, friends, work colleagues and complete strangers]

5 books, 53 greetings cards , 54 metres of ribbon

5 embroidered baby bibs, 10 metres of elastic

2 coffee mugs, 5 bags of assorted stuff for charity shop

7 metres of fabric, a pot plant, some snowdrops

a jar of buttons, a handmade bookmark, a pen

a scented candle, a cotton shopping bag

2 pencil rolls, a wicker basket, a tin of biscuits

4 giveaway parcels on the blog

3 lots of small change to charity appeals

*30 small cardboard boxes/cylinders

*some vinegar, bicarbonate of soda,

*and a small plastic model volcano!!!

[*these last items to a teacher friend for her class project]


I actually received

10 balls of wool, a pair of knitting needles

a knitting bag,

three jam-jar skirts, a £4 Unilever voucher

a small yellow Easter chick, 10 metres fabric

a how-to-crochet DVD, an embroidery book

a bag of vintage sewing patterns

**2 wicker baskets, a bag of buttons

**100 metres of ribbon, and a pot plant

[**these items came after I had already given away similar things earlier on in the month!]


I am not sure quite what this proves. Except that I have a lot of very generous friends – and I have not missed any of the stuff I donated. A number of the items in the second list have already been re-invented into other items and given away.

Floss and co have been participating for the past year in this challenge set by Tif over at Dottie Angel

tif challenge

I am very impressed with their determination and dedication to the challenge. I confess that I chose not to participate. Mainly because I knew there would be some stuff I would have to buy new in order to equip Cornerstones properly.

And I am afraid I would have ended up tying myself in knots trying to justify purchasing such things, like Judith Levine in her book [my review is here]

not buying it

And my other concern is that whilst the ‘only handcrafted or secondhand’ rule is very good, it doesn’t specify that the item is actually needed.

cakeplate I love old pressed glass cake plates – and I already have five. They are often on sale in charity shops – but Bob has convinced me I do not need another. He is absolutely right, of course – but when I see a lovely one in Oxfam, my heart races and my pace slows down!

Having condemned the L’Oreal “Because You’re Worth It” hype,  I do not want to fall into the M&S trap of buying something “Just Because…” [even if it is only 50p in Barnardo’s and the money is going to a good cause]

The WHAM! rule is still in operation [We Have a Mortgage!] and that has curtailed our spending on ‘frivolities’.

[Actually, I think Bob has suffered more from WHAM! than I have – his passion for PA and gadgetry has proved a little expensive at times. However, he only buys stuff which he can actually use – and his gear really does get a lot of use, helping out other churches/community events/school activities, in situations where people have limited budgets. They end up getting a really professional service from him without having to pay high commercial rates. So I do not begrudge him the odd microphone here and there, as I know it will be useful. Plus I love him to bits, and if he says he thinks we should get this or that bit of kit, I find myself juggling finances to make it possible for him]


  • I need to work harder at giving away surplus stuff
  • I need to be much more disciplined about the things I do buy, and question their necessity and value
  • I need to properly sort my crafting activities so I can actually MAKE more gifts/cards etc with the materials I already have in store

Christmas is coming, and magazines/TV programmes are already talking about “What to give this year”. I do not subscribe to the ‘give a gift you’d like to receive yourself’ idea [I’d be thrilled with some flat flower head pins, or a reel of machine embroidery thread – but would be unlikely to give such things to anyone else]

I am working on the principle that good gifts are ones which are useful and/or edible, or something the recipient has specifically requested, or flexible so they can choose [such as a giftcard] – or ‘alternative’ [I wonder what happened to the Oxfam goats in Africa which Liz gave us a few years back?] I am also working on the principle that Christmas comes at the end of December, and should be paid for by 31st of that month. I am unhappy about the idea of going into a New Year paying off the debts of the old one – so no last minute dashing to the shops for gifts financed with credit cards!


  • Do people think you are a mean, tight-fisted cheapskate if you give them a handcrafted gift ??
  • Which is better, to give a jar of homemade chutney [main ingredient being windfall apples] and take time and thought over the making and presentation of the gift – or to dash into M&S and buy a fancy jar of preserves [and then resent spending money which you could ill afford that month]  ??
  • If I got run over by a bus tomorrow, is it fair that my grieving family would then have to sort through all this ‘stuff’ I have accumulated ??
  • Furthermore, would they have the slightest qualms about chucking most of it ?? [which proves that it is mostly worthless anyway]
  • Do other people have this sort of angst about ‘stuff’ ??

Monday 27 September 2010

Yet Another Birthday

Happy Birthday, May


Another of Sylvia’s great cakes


The family were there – grand-daughter Debbie’s first baby is due any day now! [sadly, Debbie’s husband Martin had to go to work this morning and missed the party] May’s son Steve is our Church Administrator and his wife Susan is our Premises Manager.


Longevity does seem to be a feature of this village [perhaps KM is like James Hilton’s Shangri-La – if you always stay in the village, you will not age as fast as people in the outside world]

Sunday 26 September 2010


We have had a brilliant day

The banner and balloons went up first thing


We had quite a few visitors [I spoke to eight, there may have been others] and the morning service went really well.

Zara was there, back from the Special Olympics in Poland, where she won two gold medals in the tennis. What an honour for her, her family, our church and our village!


You can see the newsclip about how she met members of her Polish Family for the first time here.


At the service this evening Bob preached on Genesis 18, and how Abraham welcomed his visitors, and how we need to be welcoming. I hope some of the folk who came this morning will be back again!

Saturday 25 September 2010

Come as You Are

Sunday 26th September is “Back To Church Sunday” and we have given out loads of invitations


This afternoon, whilst Bob tidied up the vestibule and David cut the grass, I put up a display for the visitors we hope will come…


Unlike previous displays, where we have focussed on the different groups and events going on in the life of the church, this time it is simply lots of photographs of people with the strapline


not just a PLACE we go to,

but a FAMILY where we belong

I was surprised how many suitable photos I had [a high proportion of them have appeared on the blog!] of our loving, caring Church family. I was not surprised by how many of them involved eating though! Breaking Bread Together is something we do quite often.



Now I have to go and blow up a lot of orange balloons!

If you are doing BTCS, I pray that your events are well attended.

btcs red


Wonderful Wipz!

Today my Blogfriend PomPom is celebrating her birthday – and her post yesterday was all about BandAids and Wet Wipes. Hope you’re having a happy day with the Grandchildren, PP – but your post set me thinking…

Wet Wipes – or Baby Wipes as they tend to get called here in the UK only really came into the shops in the 1980’s.


Certainly when Liz was born in 1982, most nappy changing involved cotton wool balls and baby lotion. But things moved on very quickly, and it wasn’t long before those plastic packs were in every bag, bedroom, bathroom and glovebox. In our house when the girls were small, we called them bottiwipz [no, don’t ask my why we chose such a perverse spelling, that is lost in the mists of time]

All these years later, I am still buying wipz quite regularly – even though I don’t have children in nappies anymore [and haven’t done since 1986]. They have a million and one uses, although the original purpose is still at the top [bottom?] of the list.

I use wipz for

  • quick clean ups of bathroom surfaces
  • removing makeup
  • blotting small stains from clothing
  • polishing mirrors
  • quick clean ups after finger foods/picnics
  • cleaning my car interior
  • wiping fingers and fixing errors when facepainting
  • cleaning wellies and other plastic/rubber footwear
  • cleaning plastic handbags
  • wiping cordless phones and base units
  • dusting off computer printer, and mouse
  • wiping clean the cords on my rotary dryer
  • cleaning rubber stamps when I am crafting

And that’s just a quick list, there are probably other uses which I will remember later! There are some very strange videos on YouTube about using wipz for obscure crafting purposes. I expect I could even find one on making PomPom some roses for a Birthday Bouquet if I searched hard enough!

In What Wonderful Wayz Will You Use Your Wipz?

And before you good green folk out there all comment about it – yes, I know disposable things are not very eco-friendly. But nobody’s perfect – and I am sufficiently inconsistent to love these wipz – but abhor disposable nappies!

Friday 24 September 2010

Upmarket Blancmange!

King Solomon sent a message “Give orders that cedars of Lebanon be cut for me” and used those mighty timbers to build the Temple in Jerusalem, and to this day, the cedars are right in the middle of the Lebanese national flag

lebanese flag

I have never been to Lebanon – but I did enjoy my Lebanese pudding last week when I went to Orjowan for lunch. So I found the recipe online and made some this week.



· 4 cups milk

· 4½ oz sugar

· ⅓ cup cornflour

· cold water

· ½ tsp vanilla extract

· 6 tsp rose water

· ½ cup single cream

· ¼ cup rose syrup

· chopped pistachio nuts


· Heat milk over low heat or in double boiler. Add sugar and stir until dissolved.

· Mix cornflour in a little water and add to hot milk. Still over low heat, stir until thickened.

· Add vanilla, rosewater and cream

· Cook for a few minutes more and let cool.

· Pour mixture into individual dishes and let cool thoroughly.

· Pour rose syrup over each goblet to cover the  cream

· Refrigerate until needed. Garnish with pistachios.

I didn’t have any rose syrup so I improvised with some grenadine [it is pink and sweet!] I found rosewater in Sainsbury's. This quantity filled six small glass dessert dishes.

“It’s basically just blancmange” said Bob. Well, yes, it is – but it sounds a lot classier when you call it Mouhallabieh, or Lebanese pudding, doesn't it!

Thursday 23 September 2010

Bento Basics 弁当

I was talking to Liz over the summer about making packed lunches more interesting, and she said she has started taking a Bento Box to work. Bento (written 弁当) is the Japanese word for “Meal in a Box” and you can find a useful and informative website all about it here.


Liz said she’d bought herself a Lock’n’Lock box with three compartments, and she had been planning a week’s worth of meals in advance. Also, every weekend, she was cooking a large amount of rice, and freezing it in individual portions, so that she can easily defrost a day’s worth.


There is a cookbook associated with the JustBento website- but the site itself has so many brilliant ideas that I can’t see the point of paying out for it.

Well, I got my box [thank you John Lewis] and planned my meal last night.

Left over couscous, with nuts, plus a mixed salad, and some red and white grapes.

[Carbs; couscous, Protein; nuts & beans, Fruit&veg; salad & grapes]


I thought it looked very tasty and I popped a fork and paper napkin in the top and snapped the lid on. Then I went to school and put it in the fridge. However two of my 1-1 pupils were absent – so I came home at 12.30 and was able to eat my lunch with Bob!

This is the second week that I have ended up with a free Thursday afternoon. This time I managed to do the ironing and go with Bob to a Care Home Service. However, I am unexpectedly in school tomorrow, so I had better start planning something for my lunch!

I like the system explained on the website [the menus given include information on both time taken and calorific content]

  • Use bentos to incorporate more healthy food into daily eating. Use as much vegetables/vegetable products as possible, watch the amount of oil and fat, and try to stay away from processed foods.
  • Try to keep the total caloric value of bentos to under 600 calories.
  • Keep maximum time spent on assembling at 30 minutes, but most of the time aim at well under 20 minutes.
  • Choose food which is tasty and safe to eat at room temperature, leak- and spoil-resistant, and filling.
  • Keep things simple, but they should look appetizing
  • Try to keep the cost down as much as possible.

Liz helpfully emailed me and said she likes these recipes

Tsukune (made with turkey mince as it's easier to get and cheaper)

Kinpira (good with carrots or broccoli stem)

Tofu burgers, Lentil burgers, Baked tofu, Tofu cutlets

Tamagoyaki (Japanese omelette)

[A lot of her bentos involve some form of mini burger, but at least there's variety in whether it's meat, tofu, or bean based. But I loathe tofu, so I won’t be doing mini tofu burgers]

I hope to try some of these out next week [Bob is away at 2 conferences] They will make a pleasant change from the sandwich, yogurt, orange combination which has been my standard staffroom lunch for 30 years! Although it is possible to make even a humble ham sandwich a little more exciting if you try!


Thank you for the idea, Liz!

Wednesday 22 September 2010

Just Desserts!

So it is all over – the Great British Bake Off has finished – and of the three gifted finalists – Edd, Miranda and Ruth…

bakeoff finalists

… in the end, the winner was Edd [a very nice chap]

edd kimber great british bake off winner

I must admit, that when Sue Perkins put on her sad voice at one point and said “But regrettably we have to send one person home” I yelled out “Get rid of Paul!” as I was getting really annoyed with the judge. I think Mary Berry was a little frustrated by his attitude too. All three finalists were excellent, and I am not sure I would have wanted to make the decision.

bake off cake

I’ve also watched Jamie’s American Food Revolution

jamie usa food revolution

Poor lad! Trying to persuade the school cook to allow the children to use knives and forks, when they normally eat with spoons and fingers. And that headteacher!! “When I saw Jamie teaching them to use the cutlery, I realised I could do that too”

We decided you cannot undo fifty years of fast food culture in a fortnight. But well done for trying, mate!

jamie obese family

And when he visited the obese family and gave them healthy menus – and returned to see how they were managing [they weren’t, really] “I mean, they go to church, so they can’t be lying to me, can they?” he said. Oh you sweet Essex boy, I could hug you, Jamie!

However, lest anyone should think that fabulous food is just on TV, I feel I must post pictures of the delicious desserts we shared at our Alpha Group last night. Katherine's Pineapple Cheeesecake and Caroline's Tiramisu Cake.



They were amazing – especially considering that Katherine has been really ill for a number of years, and this was her first attempt at making a pudding.

We decided we couldn’t possibly eat both desserts completely – so everybody took slices home to share with their husbands! If we eat like this every time we have an Alpha Group, we will probably need Jamie to come and prepare salads for us!jamie mr pea

Peas and Luv, Bruvver!!

Tuesday 21 September 2010

The Preservation Of The Saints

We are exceedingly fond of preserves, chutneys and pickles in our family. Last year I made Norfolk Chutney, Rowan Jelly, Herb Vinegar and Plum Jam for Christmas presents


and Steph made some great Boxing Day Chutney [which could be eaten immediately- it didn’t need to mature for a month!]


Last week I was given a bag full of apples by a friend – so as well as three apple pies, I made some fruit chutney last night


I have decided this will probably be kept in my larder and should last us well through the next few months. But that doesn’t mean the jars shouldn’t have pretty little hats. You never know, I might need an impromptu gift sometime!

I was reading Cottonreel’s recent blogpost about her chutney, and I decided that her ‘non-recipe’ makes a lot of sense – use what you have to hand – I had lots of apples, some onions [red, and regular] one yellow pepper and four pears on the point of going soft, and a packet of dates [I chopped each date into three].

I combined the ingredients [fruit;sugar;vinegar] in the ratio of 8:1:1 [I had 1600gm fruit: 200 gm sugar: 200ml vinegar] in my big old pressure cooker pan. I brought the whole lot to the boil, then turned it down to a simmer, and cooked for about an hour [stirring frequently so it wouldn’t stick] I also stirred in a generous glug of “Balsamic vinegar with fig” which gave it a gloriously rich, brown colour. This made the eight small jars you see above. It should be ready by half term [so I shall take a jar to Cornerstones to enjoy when we are there for our autumn break]


I watched a brief “River Cottage Bites” programme the other day, where they made oatcakes. It looked ridiculously easy [once you have sourced the oatmeal] I think Bob would enjoy oatcakes, cheese and chutney for supper sometime.

Monday 20 September 2010

The Village Fun Day

The Village Fun Day went off really well on Sunday – although the skies were quite overcast and I think that kept some punters away.


Lots of different stands this year – the Army Cadets Climbing Tower was popular.


Sue had worked incredibly hard beforehand preparing stuff for the Churches Together Gazebo


As well as the display of information and the FairTrade goods



She supervised Children’s crafts


And Janet [plus Hayley and I] did face-painting


Lots of different stalls with tombolas, bottle stalls, plate smashing, lucky dips, raffles, two ‘inflatables’, a goal scoring competition, and Usborne Books, where Gemma had lots of piratical  stuff, as Sunday was “International Talk Like A Pirate” Day.

Entertainment included the 2B dancers, a band [sorry, I missed their name as I was busy painting a butterfly on a 6 year old] and an Air-Guitar competition. As ever, the PA system was brilliant [and yes, Bob did have all the proper PRS licences etc!]

Heuristic play for Under 5’s


Iggle Piggle and Upsy Daisy from the Night Garden


Punch and Judy


Ann and Ken [the Street Pastors]


And the food…oh the food!!

Clive and co running a tuck shop, Dave and Elaine with BBQ full of hotdogs and burgers, Navneet and family with amazing Indian snacks, and inside the Village Hall, the WI ladies had hot drinks – and Sarah from Cherry Tree Gifts was selling beautiful cupcakes


I did tease her about the morality of selling such calorie-laden goodies at the weekend, when she runs a Slimming Club during the week! [She said she just sells them, she doesn’t make anyone eat them!]

At the end of a really busy day, we had an worship service in the middle of the field – with ‘congregation’ and ‘musicians’ totalling around 45 people



Then it all had to be packed up. I never took any photos of Bob’s Sound Tent  - but all his PA equipment, plus 3 gazebos and the Churches Together stuff etc etc filled up about 6 cars. People were brilliantly helpful with putting things away – and then helping transport it back to our place.  Thank you, friends!

It all got stacked into our garage [and will take ages to sort!] and we went into the lounge and collapsed with cups of tea. We were both too tired to think about food – but Navneet had kindly come across  at the end of the event with a huge bag of delicious onion bhajis for us. So supper was bhajis followed by some apple pie.


There were some great comments during the day

“If Bob’s setting up for the Fun Day, who is preaching?”

“Me” [still in grubby jeans and baseball cap, with grass stained fingers] “But I am going to change first”

"Good!” [actually, I was very tempted to stay as I was, just to make the point that it is our heart not our appearance that matters, but decided that was probably not helpful!]


How much is the Face Painting?”

It’s free”


It is part of the church’s contribution to the Community Funday. Here, take this invitation and come to our church next Sunday and find out more…” [oh I do hope they come]

and – as we struggled to erect Dave’s 3-section large gazebo which has about 60 separate tubes and almost as many plastic connectors, I stood there clutching one of the uprights and said plaintively

“I think I am a foot short”

Bob was still chuckling about that remark twelve hours later!