Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Weights And Measures

The kids at school always love studying the Egyptians- especially all the stuff surrounding death. The bit where they pull your brain out through your nose** before you can be mummified, and that your heart is weighed against the feather of truth to see if you are worthy of the afterlife. [** I apologise if your child came home from school believing that they used a bent paperclip, cos that was what the Supply Teacher told them]
As our Kids' Club this year is all about Moses, we have a lot of Egyptian stuff going on. I've realised that my scales are very useful timesavers as I prepare and collate all the craft materials.
All the bottle tops had to be washed in the bath before Chris drilled them.
I needed to sort them into groups of approximately 300. I weighed 10, then 20 - and established that 300 bottle tops weigh around  1lb/450gm. It is much quicker to weigh them than count them individually.
I applied the same idea to the various cut-out shapes - and was very satisfied with the amount of time I saved. 

Last summer, I spotted an idea for a craft on the internet which I thought I could modify.
We are going to make Grumpy Pharaohs using a wooden fork, wool, pipecleaners  and coffee filters [most of supplies I had already in the Great Stash]
But it appears that Pixar have got there first with Forky in Toy Story 4 [I haven't seen it yet, so no spoilers please]
Oh well - the children who have seen the film will be used to the idea of a fork character.  and we are using wooden, not plastic forks here, so that seems to be a win-win situation.

Monday, 15 July 2019


Always pronounced in our family as "Spud-oo-lickay" - making it sound like a greek word [for jacket potatoes perhaps?]
 You know I cannot bear food waste - so a few months back, when I realised that some potatoes had somehow been left in the garage, and had "chitted" themselves, 
I couldn't bring myself to throw them in the food waste bin. So I put some compost in an old dustbin, and then planted the spuds. And I've been watering them [with rainwater from the butt, naturally] and then this weekend I harvested them. 
Here they are -  a whole bowlful, I carefully washed and dried them.
I have 2kg of very good potatoes- and they grew beautifully with next to no attention from me [other than watering] I checked out supermarket prices, and this lot would cost around £3.50/£4. Bargain! 

I have already used the smallest ones to make a potato salad with mayo and homegrown mint, and served some of the middle-sized ones boiled with butter. 
Any other suggestions for preparing these freebies?

Sunday, 14 July 2019

A Work In Progress

Crafters are very familiar with that expression - how's that jumper you were knitting? "Well it's a WIP - Work In Progress" [or sometimes UFO - UnFinished Object, or PhD - Project Half Done] But it applies to people too. We are all learning, growing - and hopefully becoming the people we ought to be.

Our Church has adopted a "Vision and Values" Statement which sets out what we believe, about God, and about our commitment to him, to each other, and to our world.
Here's our Vision Statement
To see the Kingdom of God built, in Ferndown and wherever we are, through each member as we grow together as disciples of Jesus. 
This is a shared goal – we work together to build God’s kingdom. And that’s also local – we are committed to the community in which God has placed us. But it is also an individual goal: we believe in preparing people to be effective representatives of God’s Kingdom wherever they are, and in whatever they are doing.
And then there are 11 Values - [you can read them here]
Over the last few weeks, Bob has been teaching about each of these in turn - tonight we will be considering Value 7 - "Work In Progress"
We are a people who acknowledge that we are not the finished article. We will remain humble, realising that in both success and defeat God is working through us for our good and always questioning how and why we are doing what we are doing. We will be gentle and understanding with those who struggle, acknowledging that none of us is accepted by God through our own merit. Faith is a lifelong journey, and while we travel together, we can each be at a different stage in that journey.

I find this so encouraging - I love the fact that we travel together, but each of us is at our own stage in the journey. I am grateful for God's grace that He is loving, accepting, and forgiving  - even when we go wrong. Sometimes when I am knitting or sewing, I make a mistake, and I have to unpick and re-do a section. Occasionally I spot a mistake that I made a few rows back, and there is even more unravelling and correcting and reknitting. Life is like that - there are mistakes which we can seek to correct promptly, and others which perhaps were made a long time ago, and we need the humility to acknowledge them. 
Sometimes the finished garment will carry evidence of a slip, even after we have done our best to rectify things. But that does not mean the garment is worthless, or unwearable. Our lives may carry the marks of previous bad times - but it does not mean we are worthless, or useless. We keep going on the journey...

Saturday, 13 July 2019

The Stork Brought You!

For centuries parents have dodged answering children's questions about childbirth by claiming "the stork brought you"
This tradition is believed to date back to the Greeks [and the myth of Gerana], and then other Southern European nations. In the days when many weddings took place around the time of the Summer Solstice, there were a lot of babies born in March/April. This was the time when the storks returned after their winter migration South. Hence returning storks=arrival of new babies.
The Greeks also had a law called pelargonia [from pelargonus, the word for stork] which meant responsibility to care for aged parents- because storks watch over the older birds.
White storks used to be very common in Britain - this is evidenced by some of our place names - Storrington in Sussex was formerly Estorchestone/Storca-tun...the homestead of the storks, there's Storkhill in Yorkshire, and a number of other similar placenames.
But although we get visiting birds from Europe, the white storks have not bred in this country for years.
In fact the last recording of a pair breeding in Britain was in 1416 [the year after Agincourt] on the roof of St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh. 600 years ago
Many storks were killed and eaten in the 17th century - because they bred in East Anglia [home to Cromwell & others] they were seen as a symbol of radical Christianity - so the Restoration monarch and his friends chose them as a popular banqueting dish!!
Five years ago, some storks began nesting on the roof of Thrigsby Hall near Yarmouth in Norfolk. There was much excitement..but nothing happened!
But this year, we have had a pair of birds in Kent, on the Knepp Estate, nesting on the top of a great oak tree - watching over three eggs. This is part of a re-wilding project, and although these birds were provided with nesting poles, they preferred their own nest ion the tree. Sadly it appears the eggs have not hatched as hoped.
<< here are the Knepp pair. The experts are not too downhearted - apparently it is not uncommon for the first few eggs to fail - and storks can stay together and breed for decades.
One of the rewilded birds has flown off - and actually been spotted in Norfolk.
I do hope that some storks eventually manage to set up home and breed again here - in some parts of Europe, the numbers have decreased [possibly due to global warming] 
The stork has been acknowledged as a herald of new birth, a reminder to care for the elderly, and the sign of determined Christians working to improve their society. What's not to love about these birds with such symbolism behind them?
I listened to an ornithological enthusiast on the radio discussing this, and he said "The stork is a symbol of hope, and that is surely what Great Britain needs right now" Well, amen to that!
Bob asked me what storks eat - I have no idea- my first response was "Margarine?"

Friday, 12 July 2019

The Little Shop Of Horrors

M&S sent me an email about their special new summer promotion "Little Shop"
I went in to the Foodhall to buy some milk, and there was the big display all about it.
How it works;
You spend £20 and then you get a little paper bag containing a miniature replica of an M&S product. 
You can buy a folding box in which to contain your collection.
M&S I am utterly disgusted with you. For the past few weeks, we have been watching dear Hugh-F-W fighting plastic waste and you come up with this?
I asked the guy at the checkout what these things were made of. "Recycled plastic" he said "And when you have finished playing, you can bring it back to us and we will recycle it into playground benches"
"Can I see one of these miniatures, please?" I said, indicating the little packets behind him. "I'm not allowed to open the packets- but you can see these pictures"
"I don't want a picture, I want to see the actual item" "They're proving very popular!" he said. "Not with me- but that's not your fault, you are just doing your job"
And I carried my milk and bread towards the door. By the door was a huge display and two assistants explaining about LS to a couple of Ferndown Grannies [three once I arrived on the scene] "Can we see inside one of the packets?" I asked "Oh no - but there are pictures of all the items in the collection box." So what are they made of?" I asked "Oh, they are all cardboard" said the girl. "What, this replica milk bottle is made of cardboard?" "Err no, that's plastic" "Plastic???!!" I said. Senior assistant said "It is plastic which you can return to the store for recycling when your child has finished playing with it and it will go to make playground benches
"They look rather small, are you sure they wouldn't be a choking hazard?" "Everything's been fully tested I assure you"
Younger assistant turned to the other Grannie and said brightly "There are 25 different items in the collection, so you can encourage the children to learn all about different foods, their production and their nutritional content. And you can buy and apron and a play shop and a little shopping trolley" Grannie smiles but says nothing.
"This is our special summer promotion, it is proving very popular"
"excuse me" I say [here she goes again they thought] "It says on your display that this promotion runs till September 8th" "That's right"
"So that means that if my granddaughter wants to collect the complete set, I have to spend a minimum of £500 in here over the next 8 weeks... I don't spend £65 a week in here! Any anyway, it's all random - so what if I get 6 bottles of milk, and no Peppa Pig sweets?" 
"We are having 70 swap events around the country so children can trade their duplicates- and unwanted items will go to be recycled into playground benches. This promotion is already proving very popular"
Bob thinks that this promotion is probably aimed at grannies, who will collect this stuff in the mistaken belief that it will encourage their grandkids to learn more about fairtrade coffee, and the Vitamin C in a satsuma. Well this Grannie is definitely not on board.
Which M&S boffin thought it would be a good idea to introduce a range of small plastic toys just after HFW slated McDonald's for their Happy Meal Toys, right in the middle of "Plastic-Free July"?
It is certainly not 'proving very popular' in this household. I am disappointed in you, Carmen McQuaid

[Listen out for the key phrases "return to the shop for recycling" "made into playground benches" "proving very popular". What proportion of toys will just end up in the bin? how many benches will be made at the end of all this? - and 'popular' does not necessarily mean 'good'.]

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Corks Crew

The sun was shining, so I decided to do another bit of the Kids' Club Craft Preparation. All those holey corks needed painting, to be the heads and tails of the bottle top snakes. I put on an apron and gloves, covered the garden table with a tarp, and set to work with a can of red spray paint.
As they stood there, in their red rows, nearly 200 of them, I couldn't quite work it was...they reminded me of something - but what?
Then I realised, it was the Terracotta Army! This amazing collection of 8000 soldiers, dating back to the 2nd century BC was discovered by farmers, 45 years ago, in Xi'an, Shaanxi in China. As well as the soldiers, there are horses, chariots, musicians, acrobats and strongmen! The detail is incredible, each character is unique.
The figures were amazingly well preserved - but experts had to be incredibly careful as the artefacts were uncovered. Some of the figures were painted - and after just 15 seconds exposure to the dry air of Xi'an, the paint begins to curl up, and in just four minutes it flakes off.
About 20 years ago, Bob's friend Steve went on a business trip to China, and brought back three replica figures for us. 
I took them out into the sunshine, and stood them at the front of my Corks Crew. They don't look too happy about this!
[pleased to note that the paint is not curling or flaking on the corks]
Update: Viv has commented below that they reminded her of Antony Gormley's figures (here)

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Speedy Sticky Sweet Supper

I kept coming across variations of this recipe in the internet last week, so here's my take on it. It has a lot of ingredients - but they were all ones I already had in the cupboard [apart form the cauliflower] Some recipes say maple syrup and rice vinegar. Golden syrup and white wine vinegar work just as well. I used ketchup - other recipes say tomato puree, and some sriracha [too hot for me!]
Plus points - ready in 30 minutes, baked not fried, and ridiculously easy. You can double up the quantities if there are more than two of you. It's vegetarian - I think if you used soy milk, it would be vegan. Minus point - it's rather sweet!

Sticky Sesame Cauliflower
Prep Time 15 minutes,  plus Cook Time 20 minutes
Serves 2
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
¾ cup milk
½ cup flour
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking powder
½ large cauliflower
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp golden syrup
2 tbsp vinegar
1 tsp oil
½ tsp. ground ginger
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tsp tomato ketchup
2 tsp cornflour
2 tbsp cold water
1 chopped spring onion
2 tsp sesame seeds
1 cup rice
  1. Put 1 tbsp oil in the bottom of a roasting pan. Put pan in oven and preheat to 220°. 
  2. Snap or cut off the cauliflower florets and put on a plate. You want pieces each about the size of a small new potato! Retain the stalks for using in another recipe.
  3. Mix flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl, stir in milk to make a stiffish batter. Drop cauliflower florets into the batter, gently turning them with your fingers, so they are well coated with the batter.
  4. Get that hot pan out of the oven, and carefully place the florets in a single layer, spread out on the bottom of the pan. Bake for 10 minutes.
  5. Start cooking the rice
  6. While cauliflower bakes, combine soy sauce, syrup, vinegar, 1 tsp oil, ginger, garlic and ketchup in a small saucepan. Simmer on medium heat for 10 minutes. Blend cornflour with water, and stir into  sauce mix. Remove from heat.
  7. Remove cauliflower from oven and gently flip over each floret. Lightly brush florets with remaining tablespoon of oil. Return to oven and bake 5 minutes more, until they are beginning to crisp
  8. Toast the sesame seeds in a dry pan.
  9. Now take out the pan and pour sauce all over the florets, bake for a further 3-4 minutes more, just until sauce becomes very sticky .
  10. Put the rice in a bowl, with sticky cauliflower in top. Garnish with seeds and spring onions. Enjoy!

This must have been successful - Bob not only said he enjoyed it, but he didn't remark on the lack of meat content. Meanwhile, I'm singing this little ditty to myself - to the tune of Frere Jacques
Life is butter, life is but a
Melancholy flower, melancholy flower
Life is but a melon, life is but a melon
Cauliflower, cauliflower

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Clearing House

Definition; clearing house - 

  1. a banking organisation where cheques and bills are exchanges
  2. an agency which collects and distributes things, particularly information
Of late, this has definitely been a clearing house in the second sense.
I've collected bottle tops [and passed them on to Chris for holey-ness]
I've distributed photocopied frogs and pharaohs which needed cutting out for Kids Club , and then collected them back again, all neatly trimmed
And I've distributed and delivered all sorts of random items as I continue to declutter
The wool went to a lady who has just learned to knit and wanted something to practise with.
The Z-bed has gone to a young family who want it when the children's friends come for sleepovers.
The camping gear has gone to a friend from church
And the table I sold for £3 on Facebook Marketplace, to someone who wanted it for her wedding reception to display the cake. 

I said to Bob "should I give it to her for nothing, as it's for her wedding?" and he  wisely said "wait and see". In the event, I ended up delivering it, and her fiance was not exactly appreciative, so I just smiled and took the money. I have realised that some people on FB Marketplace are polite, and others are just plain rude! 
There is currently in the front garden, a dead dishwasher, which I hope will be going to the tip later today. The d/w has struggled on with numerous repairs, and bits of the inner fittings dropping off for ages. In the last few months it has definitely got worse, not always washing properly and being less than efficient. Then a friend from church said "Anybody need a new dishwasher?" and I suggested the one at the Manse was proving rather hopeless. My friend is getting a new kitchen which comes with a built in d/w - so has passed on her Bosch machine to us. [Technically, she's given it to the church, because it has gone into the Manse which is a church house] It is so lovely to have reliably clean dishes again!
I was talking with a friend on Saturday morning about it, and saying that we ought to be more ready to pass on things we no longer need. Twenty minutes later, I was in a conversation with somebody who is taking her family camping for the first time next month. And as yet has NO camping equipment. Bob and I were talking last week about clearing out our camping gear - so I said "Would you like a tent and some other bits?" - and now she has them. Let's face it, we bought that tent in May 2000 - and it hasn't been used for at least 6 years. We have had our money's worth, so I'm happy for it to go and be used. Someone else at church is lending her some kit too.
Why are we so possessive? I keep coming back to that Joshua Becker quote. Much of the stuff in our home is constantly in use, but there are items in cupboards which I no longer have a use for which could bless somebody else. 
The clearing continues...

Monday, 8 July 2019

Dancing A Holy Jig

It is eight years since we made snakes at the Holiday Club in Kirby Muxloe. 

We're doing it again here in Ferndown this summer. If you want a tutorial, it is here. The folk at UCF have been equally brilliant at providing bottle tops and corks from wine and champagne bottles. One member went to a wedding, and asked the waiters for all the champagne corks.
I have to say a huge thankyou to all those who have donated these, and the shoelaces. One lady even gave a large bag of odd laces she had kept in a drawer for years "just in case". Such donations keep the costs down [we run this club as a free event for our community]
But the prize to the Holiest Man in the Church has to go to Chris. He set up a jig in his shed, and has drilled around 4000 holes!
The little wood piece holds the bottle tops so a perfectly central hole can be drilled. He constructed other jigs to hold the different sized corks.
What a star!
It was great to see his system on Saturday, and also watch to Tom The Tortoise eating lettuce and flowers and walking in the garden.
Chris and Carolyn inherited Tom about 5 years ago. She is around 60 years old. When they acquired Tom they took him to the vet, who said "HE is actually a SHE" - but it seemed a bit late in life for a name change. I learned some interesting tortoise facts - Hibernation - the vet says you can put the pet in the fridge for the winter, it means she is kept at a constant temperature [this one has a box] Personally I wouldn't feel happy about refrigerating my pet!
Water - I asked if they had to put a saucer of water down, especially in this hot weather.  No, I was told, she gets all the liquid she needs from her food. At which point Tom demonstrated by produced a very copious amount of wee, all over the patio! 
I'm truly grateful to Chris for his holey efforts with the tops. This time I am using little pearl eyes for the snakes. These are from Hobbycraft, cheaper than goggle eyes, and self adhesive. They peel very easily from the backing sheet. I spent a few minutes drawing on the pupils with a Sharpie. Only three weeks till Kids' Club., and craft preparations are almost done!

Sunday, 7 July 2019

Your Name Is Power

This is the new song from Rend Collective. They say it was 'born out of a need to remind ourselves Who is in control' . I hope you enjoy it as I do.

You're the only answer to the darkness
You're the only right among the wrong
You're the only hope among the chaos
You are the voice that calls me on
Louder than every lie
My sword in every fight
The truth will chase away the night

Your name is power over darkness
Freedom for the captives
Mercy for the broken and the hopeless
Your name is faithful in the battle
Glory in the struggle
Mighty, it won't let us down or fail us
Your name is power

I know it is written, hope is certain, yeah
I know that the Word will never fail,
I know that in every situation
Yes, I know You speak the power to prevail

When You speak, You scatter darkness
Light arrives and Heaven opens
Holy Spirit, let us hear it
When You speak, the Church awakens
We believe that change is coming
Holy Spirit, let us see it

Your name is power over darkness
Freedom for the captives
Mercy for the broken and the hopeless
Your name is faithful in the battle
Glory in the struggle
Mighty, it won't let us down or fail us
Your name is power over darkness
Your name is power in the chaos
Your name is power

Saturday, 6 July 2019

Adobe Air

I didn't have a title for this post, but I was playing around with anagrams. Adobe Air = Brodiaea. That is a flower I had not heard of till yesterday. Brodaea, also known as Triteleia, and popularly called "The Cluster Lily" is, it seems, a member of the Asparagales family.
But whatever their complicated classification, there they were, in tight bundles, in the flower section of Sainsbury's. And they were so BLUE - an amazing deep inky blue, like the Quink I used to have in my fountain pen at school. It's my turn this weekend to arrange the flowers in church. So I bought some - along with other blue flowers [irises and lisianthus], and took them to church.
When I purchased them, they were in tight buds, and as I started arranging them in between the creamy white chrysanths and roses, it felt like embellishing some white lacy embroidery with lapis lazuli seed beads. They soon began to open and display their lily-like characteristics. I hope it is not too hot in church over the weekend, so that they stay fresh and beautiful.
On a different note entirely, I spotted another confusing car park sign this week. I have often watched shoppers with huge trolleys in IKEA, B&Q, Homebase etc letting their children ride on the carts even though these ones are clearly not fitted with a child seat. I saw this sign in a carpark, and thought it might mean "Do not let your children do acrobatics on the trolleys"
But turn it the correct way up, and you realise it is simply another version of the "parent and child parking" notice.
Like Macbeth, I think I must be suffering from "a false creation, proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain". It has been hot here in Dorset
I was going to say "I hope you are all enjoying the sunny weather, and not suffering too much with hay fever." Then I remembered that many of you are outside of the UK and your weather is very different. Bless has experienced two earthquakes in California this week, and I hear that parts of Canada have been unseasonably cold. 

Friday, 5 July 2019

Dad's [Secret] Army - Don't Tell 'Em Pike!

Soon after I came to Dorset, I read a brief article about Wartime Resistance in Ferndown [it was in a newspaper in the chip shop, so I couldn't bring it home!] I discovered that During WW2, Churchill had a group based in Coleshill in Oxfordshire, who specialised in guerilla tactics. They secretly trained some members of Home Guard Platoons [aka Dad's Army] across the country to be prepared for special activity in the event of an invasion.
Ferndown had such a unit - and their base was an underground bunker on Poor Common. PC is an area of wooded land behind the Angel Pub, at the end of our estate. But although older members of the community knew of this, there was little real evidence, and nobody quite knew where the bunker was.
It was believed to be 'somewhere on Big Mac Hill' and that at the end of the War, the council digger had come along and filled in the entrance.
One afternoon, I went out for a bike ride, and had no idea where it was or what to look for. I asked a woman walking her dogs - but she was new to the area too. We chatted, and subsequently met up for a coffee... and I forgot all about it.
Last week I was in another chippy, and found another article. This was in the 4DorsetMagazine, and 3 months old. This time I ripped out the page and brought it home.
A local man, Adam Dunn believed he had found the bunker. He contacted the Coleshill Auxiliary Research Team. CART contacted Dorset Council's countryside officer, Hannah Bosence [this is on Council land] and a dig was started.
They unearthed the water pipes, and an unusual corrugated roof, and other evidence of WW2 activity.
The bunker measured 10ft x 12ft, with a 25 yard long escape tunnel. 
In the event of invasion, 6 Ferndown men were to 'go to ground' and hide here  during the day. At night they were to emerge and carry out sabotage operations. Things like destroying aircraft at nearby Hurn Airport [now Bournemouth Airport] They could not tell their families about any of this - and they had been warned that their life expectancy, should all this happen,would be around two weeks. They were expected to choose death, rather than face capture.
They were led by HG Sergeant Geoffrey Tice [a local garage owner] with Corporal Alfred Talbot, and Privates Feltham, May, Black and Gabe. [Gabe was Ferndown Scoutmaster for 40 years]
Here is Ferndown HG
Six of these men knew they had been prepared for a special, dangerous task - but were not able to tell their comrades or their loved ones. Here's a diagram of the bunker
Can you imagine being down here in the dark, along with a supply of explosive, ammunition and weapons - plus a fortnights rations and water supply?
Ms Bosence  hopes to obtain the services of a council mini digger plus driver - and then the volunteers will return to fo more excavation work. She says the site will have to be filled in eventually, although they hope to leave part of the entrance exposed, with 'interpretation boards'' and the Ferndown Royal British Legion want to be involved in such a project.
I wonder if any of the Scouts in the 1950s realised that their Scoutmaster, Mr Gabe, had been prepared to be involved in guerilla warfare? That as well as lighting campfires and tying knots, this amiable looking chap also knew how to blow up aeroplanes, and engage German Soldiers in unarmed combat - and keep it all utterly secret, to sacrifice his life rather than give away information. 
There were rumours that "Gabby" had been "up to something" during the war - but it was not revealed for almost 70 years. 
This past history of this little Dorset town where I live never ceases to amaze me! 

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Sonnaz Is Smashing!

One evening recently we were driving near Kingston Lacey [one of my favourite NT places, and only seven miles up the road] and we noticed a sign to Pamphill Dairy - which listed the café, the butchery,...and Sonnaz Upholstery.
Sonnaz? we both said From the Repair Shop? So on Tuesday when we'd had a stroll round KL and admired the flowers, we called in.
Yes it was her, and yes she is just as lovely in real life as on the telly. We told her how much we loved the show, and really appreciated the skill of the crafters and their genuine love of what they did. I envied admired her professional heavy duty sewing machines. [Her website's here]
We talked about the restoration projects on the programme. Sonnaz said that thousands of people apply to have stuff fixed, and they have to make sure there is plenty of variety in nature and age of the pieces. Not too many wartime pieces, and only one per episode.
Originally she was only expecting to do one project on one show, but it has mushroomed.
The filming of each series takes place over 4 months, filming on 3 days a week.
That's quite a commitment, and the experts come from all over the country to Sussex, to work at the Weald and Downland Museum. All the work is done on site.
I found the above photo on the net [I didn't have the nerve to ask for a selfie with her] It was great to hear that the team work well together and there has been a very positive reaction from the viewers to the show. And [you heard it here first] there's another series in the pipeline! 
I'm really looking forward to that, and I know many of my friends will be too.

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

You Can't Win 'Em All!

I did my best with that milk-on-the-turn. The slowcooker custard was very good. I forgot to say that when I put it in the pastry case for the strawberry tart, I added some grated marzipan [which was in a small box in the fridge] and some cardamom. It gave a lovely Scandi-semlor buns taste.
But the yogurt did not work- it went decidedly peculiar. I drained off the whey as usual - and put the yogurt into the fridge. Yesterday I discovered the yogurt had separated and tasted odd.
I did suggest blending it with a few strawberries to make drinking yogurt, but Bob widely said that would probably be a waste of time and fruit. So we decided to cut our losses and discard it. 
The whey? well, I am afraid that is going the same whey!
There is plenty you can do with non-dodgy whey [here]
In baking, in place of water and milk. In bread making, and in cakes, scones, pancakes and any other baked goods in place of buttermilk. 
In cooking: a base for soups and stews. Cook potatoes and rice in whey.
In Drinks: Add the whey to smoothies in the morning for breakfast [extra protein]. Pets: Feed the whey to the dog or cat. 
In the Garden: Use whey diluted 50% with water to spray onto your vine crops such as pumpkin, zucchini and cucumbers to help prevent and treat powdery mildew. 
Freeze it for later use- don't throw it out - use it!
My other epic fail this week concerned butter beans [lima beans] I found a jar of dried beans at the back of the pantry.  Steph O'Dea's book had loads of ideas for using beans in the slowcooker, canned or dried. "If dried, first soak the beans in cold water overnight, then drain, and discard any which are discoloured, split or wrinkled"
Dear friends, I have to report that there were just three beans which survived this exercise. "When did you buy them?" said Bob. Well, they arrived in Dorset in the Kilner jar, having been decanted from the packet in Kirby. I would imagine I purchased them in the autumn [start of the 'soup season'] It's unlikely I would have bought them just before we moved house. Which means autumn 2013 at the latest - possibly earlier. So after six years, they probably were a bit stale!
Next to them on the shelf was a pack of pigeon peas [gungo peas]. These are much newer - but I think I shall use them up asap. There's a limit to how long a woman can go past the "best before" even for me, but I'll give peas a chance.

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Minor Victories On The Home Front

I've done surprisingly well with my 'eating the stocks' campaign. Odd half-portions from the freezer are being combined into other meals, all sorts of fresh things from the fridge are finding their way into salads. Hugh FWs Leftovers book has come into its own.
One slight hiccup - I'd bought a 6pt container of milk. I thought I'd need it for teamaking at church, then didn't. And in this heat, it started to turn when I had 3 pints left.
I made half into yogurt, and half into "vanilla custard" in my slow-cooker. I just borrowed this book from the library.  This author, Steph O'dea blogs about her slowcooker recipes, and has produced a number of cookbooks. [I think "Steph, Oh dear!" does sound like something I might say when cooking for my daughter]
I used some of the custard to fill a pastry case from the pantry and make a strawberry tart. Another 'use it up' recipe from the book inspired Sunday Lunch. I had three chicken thighs, and I boned them and made a chicken curry which cooked whilst we were at church [in at 9am, out at 1pm]
I used this recipe - but replaced the marmalade with apricot jam plus a pot of lemon slices from the fridge. Sounds weird, But Bob declared it Very Good. The apricot jam was from my Preserving Glut. Last year, Bob came home with a huge tray of fruit, which he'd been given. I knew we'd have to eat them quickly, or preserve them - hence a shelf of glistening orange jamjars. He doesn't like jam, so it has taken a while to get through them. 
We'll be eating this curry again. Apricot curry isn't that different from Rosie's beloved 'mango chupney' is it? The pickled garlic is working well - we've used it in various recipes, and it is quick and convenient.
Another triumph has been the savings on tea. In January, when Bob was having a Lapsang Souchong loose-tea phase, I saw this grey  "Stump Teapot for £4 in Sainsburys Post Christmas Sale. It has a neat infuser - it makes just two mugs. It occasionally gets used for LS, but more often for our regular tea- and one bag is enough.  
After 40 years of the trad Brown Betty pot, I am using this one instead. The BB plus 2 teabags will make 4 mugs - fine for company, but 95% of the time, those 2 extra mugs were never poured. I reckon I will save at least £30 a year in teabag costs[£26 in the first year to allow for cost of the pot] 
I continue to recycle as much as I can, and also take small things to the charity shops. But in the last couple of weeks, I have started selling on eBay and Facebook Marketplace.
Not much - but some bakeware, an old table, and my leather biker jacket have brought in £50+. It was hard to let go of the jacket - but my pillion days are over now Bob's sold the bike. And the young woman who bought it was thrilled- she looked good in it too, as she rode away!
Unlike Sue in Suffolk, I'm not good with Boot Fairs. For one thing, they are mostly on Sundays, and if I do find a Saturday one, I haven't the energy to assemble a whole table-full of goods. This dribs and drabs method - posting one or two things in the evening occasionally, seems to be working for me. Gentle economies, minor savings, and small sales- but they all add up.
Has anybody got any good tips for using EBay & FB Marketplace?