Wednesday 31 July 2013

Jam Session

I told Liz that we had a glut of figs on the tree, and she suggested making some fig jam. “Waitrose magazine had a great recipe, I will send it to you” she said. Then she could not find it – so emailed that fine store, which promptly sent her a copy of said recipe, which she sent on to me. [Thank you Waitrose!]



Liz buys over-ripe cheaply on her local market in London, and they are ideal for this recipe.

I weighed my bowlful and recalculated the quantities to make around 350g of deliciousness.

As you can see, my figs have green skins, not IMG_0141purple ones.

The fragrance of the figs, rosemary sprig and lemon zest as it simmered in the pan was wonderful.

It was somehow redolent of sitting in a shady corner of the Pitti Palace Gardens in Florence*.

It took less than 20 minutes to make this half-jar. I do not expect it to last very long. Bob is not very keen on fresh figs, but a spoonful of this with crackers and good cheese is something I am confident he will enjoy.

Pitti_Palace_Florence_Italy*I have been to Italy only once, with Steph, for just four days – but it was a great trip full of warm memories.

I am blessed with two incredibly thoughtful daughters!

Tuesday 30 July 2013

Dolly Mixture #2


Sarah asked for the patterns for the jumper/hat. The dolly is 30cm tall with a 22cm chest

I used 4ply wool and 3mm needles.



Cast on 22st. Work 4 rows in k1p1 rib. Change to stst

Cast on 1 st at each end of next and every following 8th row to 28sts.

Work 5 rows. Cast off.


Cast on 28sts. Work 4 rows k1p1 rib. Change to stst

Work 10 rows stst

Cast off 3sts at beg of next 2 rows [22sts]**

Work 10 rows stst

Work 2 rows k1p1 rib

Cast off in rib


Work as front to **

Work 4 rows

Knit 11 sts, turn

[Next row k2 p9. Next row p2 k9] Repeat those 2 rows three times

Next row k2p9. Work 2 rows in k1p1rib. Cast off

Rejoin yarn to remaining stitches [WS facing]

[next row p2k9. Next row k2p9] repeat 4 times

Work 2 rows k1p1rib, Cast off in rib.


Overlap ribbing at shoulder. Sew sleeves into place

Sew sleeve seams and side seams

Sew 2 buttons on the back and make loops.


Cast on 70sts. Work 4 rows in k1p1 rib. Work 10 rows stst

row 15 – *k8 k2tog* repeat to end

row 16 – *p2tog, p7* rpt to end

row 17 – *k6 k2tog* repeat to end

row 18 – *p2tog, p5* rpt to end

row 19 – *k4 k2tog* repeat to end

row 20 – *p2tog, p3* rpt to end

row 21 – *k2 k2tog* repeat to end

row 22 – *p2tog, p1* rpt to end

row 23 – k2tog to end

Thread yarn through remaining stitches, draw up and sew up back seam. [oh – i forgot to mention that I did rows 9&10 in contrast yarn!]

I hope these instructions make sense- I did make them up as I went along!

Dolly Mixture

IMG_0138Up in the loft, hunting for Holiday Club Stuff [and dodging drowsy wasps who are nesting under the eaves] I spotted a bare brown leg sticking out of a bag of toys. I retrieved the doll. She belonged originally to Liz I think. I cannot remember her name [I had a dolly like this called Susannah who mysteriously disappeared when we moved house in 1965]

But this dolly was sadly lacking in clothes. So I dug out the fabric saved from my green coat last month and made her a duffle coat. I used some of the original buttons, and lining.


Then I took leftover yarn from the recently finished cardi and knitted her a jumper and a hat, and made her some trousers with some black fabric from the Great Stash.

That looks better!



I think I shall have to go the whole way and make her some little felt shoes, and maybe a set of decent underwear too.

Then I guess I should probably refurbish the dolly’s bed last slept on by the Willows Three


I must not let this project take over. August is far too busy for me to indulge in dressing dolls. Holiday Club is looming on the horizon.

Monday 29 July 2013

Rescuing The Remnants

pastryOn Saturday I decided that I ought to defrost the freezer, and also sort out any BBQ leftovers. I found a packet of puff pastry in the freezer – I’d got it seriously reduced [it was flavoured with lemon and dill, so I thought I should use it for something savoury]

I diced some carrots, potatoes and courgettes, and some of the pork, and made filling for pasties. The pastry was ‘ready rolled- and I was disappointed with its thinness- I had to keep patching up the holes as I worked. But I was very pleased with the taste of the pasties - we had them for Saturday lunch with salad. Bob had suggested adding some thyme, and that worked brilliantly


I also made a batch of shortcrust pastry and produced two veg and pork pies to go back into the re-organised freezer.

I used a little of the pastry to make some tartlets. I lined 4 small tins with pastry then put another tin on top, to ‘bake blind’



I filled the tartlets with a few blackberries, snipped some marshmallows onto the top – then grilled them briefly


There was a small tub of frozen whipped cream in the freezer, so we had tartlets and cream for dessert on Saturday evening.

There wasn’t much pork left Thursday night – and all the kebabs, cookies and ice cream were eaten. Not that you can recycle ice cream!

Take A Pew

Not exactly a pew – but I did take two folding chairs from Fakenham Parish Church three summers ago. They were selling them off for 50p each. We brought them back from Cornerstones, and they’ve been in the garage at Kirby ever since.

But this summer I got them out, dusted them off, primed them and painted them pale blue. I’d already bought the paint [reduced, of course!] for another project – so that’s a quid well spent, I think!



This is definitely turning into another “Finnish Summer” when I am getting lots of PhD’s completed [PhD = Projects half Done]

Sunday 28 July 2013

Happy Anniversary

We will be busy this afternoon* joining Bob’s brother Frank, and his wife Barbara, at their Ruby wedding anniversary party. Here’s a picture of them taken at their daughter Kate’s wedding to Jon a couple of years ago [with son Robin, and Bob in the background]

f&b with bob etc

IMG_0181Forty years together is definitely something to celebrate. May the Almond family continue to blossom!

[*it’s Sunday – so we will also be busy preaching this morning and this evening. It’s a good job F&B live relatively close by]

Saturday 27 July 2013

More BBQ Notes…

Just a few final comments about Thursday’s event.

First – we began our planning by deciding to cook just one good piece of meat, rather than offer lots of things [burgers, sausages, chicken portions] Bob was in charge of the meat, and rubbed it with spices [this time a ready made Schwartz mix – previously he had made his own rub, grinding things in the mortar and pestle] He used a meat thermometer to guarantee the pork shoulder was cooked through. You can see it here [it is magnetic and sticks to the outside of the BBQ and the probe on its wire is inside, stuck into the meat.]


IMG_0147To prepare the rainbow kebabs, I soaked the wooden skewers in a deep jar of water [this stops them catching alight] and prepared the  different vegetables. I laid out a line of veg bits as a guide whilst I was assembling.

This really helps speed up the process, you can see what to thread on next!



The desserts were easy – Steph’s 4am cookies are always a winner [recipe often blogged about before, click here] I opted to make the ice cream rather than buy ‘basics’ – it costs more, but tastes so much better. This recipe has been doing the rounds on the net all summer. It is so quick, and tastes good – and the basic contains milk, cream and sugar – and vanilla extract. That’s all [see below*]



  • 2 X 160ml pots of double cream
  • 1 can of condensed milk [NOT evaporated!]
  • 2 tsp of vanilla extract
  • OPTIONAL additions – soft fruits, broken biscuits…


  • Tip everything into a bowl and beat, preferably with an electric mixer, till it reaches the consistency of clotted cream. I just put mine in the Kenwood Chef with the whisk and let it work away, whilst I prepare the tins…
  • Line two loaf tins with a double sheet of clingfilm, allowing enough to hang well over the edge
  • Now add a second inner lining of greaseproof paper [I used a couple of proper loaf tin liners for speed]
  • Tip half the mixture into each tin. Fold the clingfilm over the top, and freeze for minimum 3 hours
  • OPTION – after putting half into first tin, I chopped half a punnet of strawberries into quarters, and stirred these into the remaining mixture.
  • NOTE it is a good idea to get the ice cream of the freezer about about 30 minutes before you plan to serve it


In a jug, mix

½ cup tropical juice mix

½ cup cranberry juice

make this up to 1 litre with diet lemonade

add sprigs of mint, ice cubes, strawberries, etc

[you can be flexible about this – use orange/pineapple/whatever juice is to hand!]

*For 89p I could have bought 2litres of ‘Basics’ [Partially Reconstituted Skimmed Milk Concentrate, Sugar, Palm Oil, Whey Powder, Dextrose, Emulsifier: Mono- and Diglycerides of Fatty Acids; Flavouring, Stabilisers: Guar Gum, Sodium Alginate; Natural Colour: Beta-carotene] but I decided not to!

Blanket Stitch

Liz now has the Vintage Lan-Air-Cel woollen blanket which came from my Mum [and she got it secondhand in 1970!] but recently a friend gave me a similar acrylic blanket [thank you!].

“It has some holes, but I am sure you can fix them” said the donor.

They were clearly made by a hot iron [there is a tiny bit of ‘melt’ damage to the nylon binding too] I began by trimming the burned edges of the holes, which had turned to sharp brown plastic.


I debated how exactly to deal with the holes. Should I…?

  • darn conventionally, stitching down and across
  • sew on some sort of patches made of woollen fabric
  • knit patches and sew them in place
  • crochet across the holes

I hadn’t any suitable fabric – and anyway I wanted to maintain the cellular structure, not use something ‘solid’. I didn’t have any pale lilac yarn – but found some fine pink acrylic of a similar weight and ‘feel’

I crocheted round the edge of the holes [discovering a third hole I had initially overlooked] and then used treble crochet to fill in the spaces. The contrast circles are not exactly unobtrusive- but I am pleased with the finish – and the blanket will give a few more years of service!


Pricewise, the wool blankets are currently £60+ and the acrylic ones around half that. So I think we have done well here!

Friday 26 July 2013

BBQ Budget

IMG_0155 gave me £50, and there were two dozen of us at the BBQ. This is how I spent the money. Thanks again, [I have allowed for cost of bbq charcoal, and skewers and napkins as well as the food costs]

from stores at home

  • salad dressings [Approved foods]      0.65
  • fruit juice [AF]                                   0.45
  • sunflower oil                                      0.20
  • marshmallows [½ bag, AF]                1.00
  • coffee  & tea                                      0.90
  • bbq skewers                                       0.50
  • paper napkins                                    0.50
  • ½ batch of Steph’s 4am cookies         2.00

[total £6.20]


from Makro cash’n’carry

  • shoulder of pork                           £16.99
  • 30 bread rolls [reduced]                  1.90
  • bbq charcoal [part pack]                  1.50

[total £20.01]


from Sainsbury's

  • basics melon                                         0.89
  • basics strawberries                               1.00
  • cucumber                                              0.80
  • basics courgettes [½ pack]                    0.80
  • basics peppers                                       1.60
  • cherry tomatoes                                    1.00
  • red onions [½ pack]                               0.50
  • pack of mushrooms                               1.00
  • hearts of romaine                                  1.00
  • bbq seasoning for pork                          1.60
  • baby sweetcorn                                      1.50
  • punnet salad cress                                  0.24
  • milk    [½ bottle]                                   0.45
  • 2 x 160ml double cream                         3.40
  • can condensed milk                               1.00
  • 2 x basics diet lemonade                       0.34
  • bag of ice                                               1.00

[total £18.12]



  • blackberries [from Sandie]
  • mint & rosemary from the garden
  • extra drinks from our guests


Next time I would skip the baby sweetcorn – it was intended to go on the kebabs, but the cobs snapped too easily, so we had to grill them separately. I’d probably omit either the melon or the blackberries, as 50% of each was left over.

I did well to get the bread rolls reduced [also the condensed milk] and my recent AF order saved me a fair bit of money on juices and dressings. Although I went for ‘basics’ veg, I opted to make the biscuits and ice-cream from scratch. It cost more – but was definitely worth it. I will post recipes later

I am following ElizabethD’s brilliant idea – and have donated the £6 left over to the Trussell Trust Foodbanks.

Charcoal Challenge

Those lovely people at gave me £50 to host a barbecue. Here are some photos from last night’s splendid gathering. We had invited members of our church worship team and their families. Not everyone could be there- but about two dozen of us had a good time and the weather was great.
Menu – all provided within the £50 budget
First course
  • pulled pork in bread rolls
  • rainbow vegetable kebabs
  • bbq baby corn
  • green salad
  • assorted dressings
  • home made ice cream [ vanilla, strawberry]
  • Steph’s 4am cookies
  • blackberries
  • melon slices
  • toasted marshmallows
  • tropical punch
  • tea
  • coffee
Our guests also brought other drinks, which was kind of them. I will say more about the actual meal preparation and the budget in another post, but here’s some photographs
Prepared rainbow kebabs waiting to be grilled
Green salads
Homemade ice cream and cookies
Melon slices
Plates and cutlery on the table
Chairs – and drinks table – under the gazebo
Dressings – and fruit punch
Then everyone arrived, and after a prayer of thanks, we began eating in earnest!!
And here is the splendid Pulled Pork cooked by Bob
People queued up to fill their plates
Bob W. enjoyed the ice cream
An evening of eating and chatting together
Toasting marshmallows and relaxing
Then it got dark, and they all left
And we took things back inside and loaded the dishwasher.
Thankyou to everybody who made our evening so special.