Sunday, 25 July 2021

Bee A Blessing

I treated myself recently to a new piece of costume jewellery. Not expensive - and not quite as flashy as Lady Hales' spider brooch. But whilst mask-wearing means my earrings are restricted to just simple inexpensive studs, this is something to pin on a summer jacket of simple dress. A little bee, about 4cm long.

I love bees. The worker bee has been the symbol of Manchester for 180 years - the city was, and is a 'hive of industry'.  When I visit Steph, I see these insects in artwork all over the place. 
This creature works hard, and lives in community - helping not just the others in the hive, but producing sweet honey, pollinating the flowers, and helping the crops grow.  

The bee is a good role model for us as Christians - we should be working hard, living in community, serving others...

Here is a prayer I wrote a few years back. Have a great Sunday - bee blessed & bee a blessings

    Father God, 

you made these tiny creatures, as part of your wonderful creation, 
and they are a blessing to me, 
and we need them if humans are to survive on our planet. 
 Scientists have studied their colonies 
and are still learning more about them 
the way they serve their queen, 
the way they work in the hive, 
their construction of the beautiful hexagonal waxen cells, 
all the properties of their honey to nourish and to heal, 
their amazing flying dances which tell other bees where to find the nectar,
Help me to learn from the bees – 
to serve you, my King, 
to work alongside my brothers and sisters, 
to build your Kingdom, 
to feed the hungry, 
and to help others to find your love.
As I am bee-blessed, so may I be a blessing


Saturday, 24 July 2021

Rainbow Ride

My neighbour asked if I could collect her prescription, so I decided to go on my bike. I haven't ridden it since Jess was born. It is a 5 mile round trip from Cornerstones to the Theatre Street Surgery. I rode along the country road that links our village to the town - so I passed fields, then up over the level crossing and into Dereham.

I was very conscious of how beautiful everything was looking - despite the heat, there was plenty of lush greenery - and once into the town itself, people had kept their gardens well watered.

So many different flowers- both wild and cultivated; cornflowers, poppies, dandelions, columbine, thistles and more edging the fields- and in the gardens buddleia, begonias, marigolds, roses, hollyhocks etc. It was a real rainbow ride.

I took lots of photos of the glorious colours. The top left picture is the old RSPCA water trough - a relic of the days when horses and riders came in to the market. Nowadays it is well maintained and full of flowers. It is opposite the War Memorial, situated on a traffic island at the end of the Market Place. One end of the area now has a bed of yellow and orange marigolds.

As I stopped to take these pictures, a lady asked "are you photographing the flowers or the restaurant?" I said the flowers- and that I thought the restaurant was looking rather sad "I remember when it was called The Cabin" I said "I worked there one summer, when I was at the High School". It turned out she had been 3 years ahead of me there.

We stood for a few minutes talking about our teachers and classmates - and although we did not recognise each other now, we'd had friends in common, half a century ago.

I started the ride home. I stopped at the crossing, to take a closer look at something which had been puzzling me when we drove past in the car recently,

I think it is a piece of guerilla artwork - it looks like rainbow stripes woven in teeshirt yarn through green garden netting.

No idea what it's for. Is it Pride thing? Or [more likely] one of the "Thankyou NHS" rainbow flags. Either way, it is rather tangled up in the railway wire fencing now.

I enjoyed my little ride- but was quite hot when I got home. If this heat continues, I shall try and cycle as early as I can. I'll leave the midday sun to the mad dogs and Englishmen!

Friday, 23 July 2021

Hot Wheels!

Since retirement, we have really enjoyed having less responsibility on a Sunday. We have been to walk round Castle Acre, we have sat in the garden with our books...and last Sunday after church we went to an "Italian Bike and Car Day" down at Old Buckenham. It appears that the owners of the Ox&Plough pub on the green host a bike meet most Tuesday evenings. 

Occasionally they put on a bigger event. It was a blisteringly hot afternoon, and the chrome and polished paintwork gleamed [as did the pride on the owners' faces] 

Not all of the 600 vehicles were cars or 'regular' motorbikes - there were some huge three-wheeled beasts- and some cute little scooters. I was quite taken with a red scooter painted with the Liverpool Fab Four. The pillion on the huge green one looked very comfortable. They say that the great American knitter Elizabeth Zimmerman used to ride pillion behind her husband and knit at the same time - maybe if Bob had a bike like this, I might manage a few rows of stocking stitch. But what if I dropped the ball of yarn halfway up the M11? Or if he braked suddenly, poked him with a needle? Too risky imho

The refreshments on offer were excellent too - we'd taken bottles of chilled water, and each had a delicious hot [huge] dog from one of the catering vans. There were plenty of benches, and shady brollies. Other people were having lunch in the pub on the edge of the green. A number of people sat in their own chairs beside their vehicles.

We had a lovely time looking at the bikes, deciding which we liked [or didn't] We noticed that the majority of the expensive, highly chromed beasts were owned by blokes aged 50+. In the car section, there were some immaculately dressed folk in Alfas, Ferraris etc - but bikers were divided between those in new fancy leathers, and old guys in teeshirts and jeans with wild grey hair and flowing [or weirdly plaited] beards. But the atmosphere was so good and people were so friendly. I love community activities like this.

We got home in time for Bob to enjoy the Grand Prix on TV

I found a video on YouTube - if you like bikes, you may enjoy this [if not, ignore it!]

Thursday, 22 July 2021

Sources for Sauces

SPOILER ALERT - this post contains a lot of sugar. Do not read it if you are trying to lose weight, or eat more healthy food!

What happened to the remaining evap? 

I made some salted caramel sauce. This recipe is quick, and easy - and I like being able to make a small quantity at a time. Alwaysood on ice-cream. Or mixed sliced banana, plain yogurt and crumbled digestives and top with the sauce for a 'deconstructed banoffee tart'

Easy Salted Caramel Sauce

Ingredients [serves 2 - multiply up for more servings]

  •          1 tbsp butter
  •          1 tbsp brown sugar
  •          ½ tsp salt
  •          3 tbsp evaporated milk 


1. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, add butter, and brown sugar,
2. Bring to a full boil for 2 minutes while stirring occasionally. 
3.  Once the mixture has been boiling for 3 minutes, remove it from the heat and slowly pour in the evaporated milk. It will bubble up like crazy but just keep stirring until it all comes together.
4. Return to the heat, cook for 2 minutes stirring continuously
5.  Sprinkle in the salt, and leave to cool
6.  Make sure to cool it down before serving so it's not piping hot! 
7.  If left in the fridge in a covered glass jar it will thicken
Now, sauce number two
Thank you Rosie, for introducing us to Chocobee Spread, from Rowse. Just two ingredients- honey and cocoa. Gorgeous on toast Ideal for people who cannot manage the ingredients of Nutella  [Sugar, Palm Oil, Hazelnuts (13%), Skimmed Milk Powder (8.7%), Fat-Reduced Cocoa (7.4%), Emulsifier: Lecithins (Soya), Vanillin] The Chocobee website is great fun and very informative.
I've also discovered it makes a lovely sauce - one heaped teaspoonful, heated in a pyrex jug in the microwave on medium power for just twelve seconds . [No hotter,no longer!] The spread will go just liquid enough to make a runny topping for one pud, [I'm mean, and make that amount go on two]
Sauce number three is savoury not sweet. I have mentioned Stokes Coronation Sauce before. In hot weather, nobody wants to spend ages in a hot kitchen. 
A spoonful of this over some cooked chicken will make a good filling for a jacket potato. Chop the chicken more finely, and it will make a sandwich spread. 
It's good and thick - you can make it go further by thinning with a little mayonnaise or yogurt.
Finally, thank you Steph.
We were discussing the problem of recipes containing a lot of chilli when people like me just don't/can't manage that level of spiciness in the sauce. 
Steph suggested that you can leave out the chillies- but if you want a hint of heat, substitute smoked paprika and a squeeze of citrus. I've done the paprika thing - but Steph said the added citrus [lemon, lime or orange] adds a little kick to the flavour. I shall have to try that one.

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Just A Can Of Evap...

In my childhood, there was always a can of 'evap' in the cupboard - evaporated milk [
usually Carnation brand]. Mum would whisk it up till it thickened, and pour it over tinned peaches for a Sunday Tea treat. Or she'd dilute it, to make a creamy rice pudding, or thick custard for her suet roly-poly pudding. 

If we ran out of regular milk [very rarely] she would dilute evap and pour it into the milk jug for tea or cereal. If I see evap on offer in the supermarket, I occasionally pick up a tin to go in the cupboard.

Last week, they had some beautiful raspberries on sale, when Bob and I went to buy our veg. He loves these ruby red fruits. I bought a punnet - then came over all 'retro' when I got home. I decided to make a milk jelly. M&S have a good recipe.

135g raspberry [or strawberry] jelly
150ml just-boiled water
175ml evaporated milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
fresh raspberries [or strawberries]

Snip the jelly into small pieces. Chill the evaporated milk.


1 Measure the just-boiled water in a jug from the kettle and immediately add the chopped jelly cubes. Stir well and set aside for 5 minutes to melt completely, stirring now and then.

2 Add 150ml cold water to the jug, stirring well again, and put the whole lot in the fridge for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until almost (but not quite) set.

3 Whisk the chilled evaporated milk and lemon juice together in a mixing bowl until thick and frothy. Add the not-quite-set jelly and whisk again until the mixture is smooth and frothed.

4 Divide between eight glasses or cups and chill for at least an hour or up to 24 hours before serving. Top with the berries to serve.

I garnished each dish with a spoonful of thick blueberry Skyr and a raspberry. Very cool and refreshing on a hot day. 

These keep well in the fridge [ungarnished] in small screwtop jars. 

Mum never added the lemon juice - but I found it really helped thicken the milk when I whisked it. You will have to wait to find out what I did with the remainder of my can of evap...

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

A Cool Cup Of Water

Bob and I greatly enjoy strolling round the local Villages when they hold Yard Sales. Foulsham, where we are now members of the little chapel, had its sale on Saturday. The day promised to be a real scorcher. Bob went off on his own to check out the sales- and I stayed outside the chapel.

The parking area in front was in cool shade all morning. I took 4 garden chairs, an impromptu 'table' made from the work platform in our garage, a flipchart sign- and a bag of supplies. [as well as a couple of library books, and a sunhat]

I was busy all morning, as people strolled past, hot and tired - and were really grateful to be able to sit down and have a free drink of cool water.

It was such a simple thing to arrange - and yet clearly appreciated. I had some lovely conversations with people too.

Bob did remarkably well, finding a large IKEA Ribba frame in the same style as the others on our photo wall, ready to receive a load more pictures. 

Normally £20 or so, he paid just £3 - and it was still in its plastic wrapping! He also got three tools to refurbish for £3. 

Bob covered for me at the Water Station for part of the time. I zipped round fairly quickly - and  found a lovely white linen Boden shirt for £5. It will look good with my new white trainers and a pretty skirt!

I much prefer a Village Yard Sale to a Boot Fair, what about you?

Matthew 10;42 - "This is a large work I’ve called you into, but don’t be overwhelmed by it. It’s best to start small. Give a cool cup of water to someone who is thirsty, for instance. The smallest act of giving or receiving makes you a true disciple."

Monday, 19 July 2021

Who's A Little Pickie Now?

Some of you have commented on Rosie's fondness for a "Picky Lunch" - this past weekend I have learned something new. Norfolk has its very own "Little Pickies" - this is the name used along the north Norfolk coast for the Little Tern.

This is because they skilfully ‘pick’ fish from the sea with their bills. They will only fly a short distance from their nest site to forage. They feed mostly on Sand Eels and young Herring, by plunge-diving to catch them, and will also feed on shrimps and small invertebrates. The number of eggs they lay and the survival of their chicks is largely dependent on food availability.

Little Terns weigh the same as a tennis ball. The male carries a fish to attract a mate; and they live – and breed – into their 20s; migrating to West Africa every year. 

The National Trust report that in 2014, a little tern was found to have died at Blakeney, having been ringed as a chick in Lincolnshire 21 years previously. The bird, a female, had an egg inside, so was still breeding at 21, having migrated between England and Africa 19 times during her life. 

There are now less than 2000 breeding pairs across the UK- 20% of them on the North Norfolk Coast. But they do not lay their eggs in sensible places - their camouflaged nests on the beach get washed away by high tides in stormy weather. The National Trust have been using "little tern decoys" to encourage them to safer sites, slightly further inland. And it seems to be working! 

The Norfolk Coast Partnership is working with the RSPB, National Trust, and Norfolk Wildlife Trust to help protect and conserve these birds - whose forked tails and aerial acrobatics make them the 'swallows of the shoreline'

I learned al these facts from the NCP "Guardian" magazine [read it online here]  Melinda Appleby has even written a Little Tern 'shape poem'

Fake News; It is not true that drug pushers have been growing marijuana plants on Blakeney Marshes, because "they want to leave no tern un-stoned"!

Sunday, 18 July 2021

We Seek Your Kingdom

Earlier this year, the LICC [London Institute for Contemporary Christianity] commissioned a new hymn. Here it is - it was released in April. The tune is the well known "Eventide" [Abide with me]I think the words speak for themselves - a challenge to the church to meet the needs of our world at this time, as we continue to see the changes forced upon us by the pandemic.

We seek your kingdom throughout every sphere

We long for heaven’s demonstration here

Jesus your light shine bright for all to see

Transform, revive, and heal society 

Before all things, in him were all things made

Inspiring culture, media, and trade

May all our work serve your economy

Transform, revive, and heal society

 Peace, truth, and justice reigning everywhere

With us be present in our public square

Fill all who lead with your integrity

Transform, revive, and heal society 

Forgive us Lord, when we have not engaged

Failing to scribe your heart on history’s page

Make us again what we were made to be

Transform, revive, and heal society

 Faithful to govern ever may we be

Selfless in service, loving constantly

In everything may your authority

Transform, revive, and heal society

Saturday, 17 July 2021

Holt! Who Goes There?

Not a misprint- it's Anne Holt, Scandi crime writer. I am quite fond of detective stuff, and there has been some good Scandi stuff on TV. We've just watched the latest Beck on BBC4. Frustratingly the BBC site gives a link to the original 1960s radio plays - but they are not currently available to listen to. But you can watch the latest 4 Beck TV episodes on BBC i-Player.

I have not read any of the Beck stories, but I have read Jo Nesbo [Detective Harry Hole], Henning Mankel [Wallander] , and Stieg Larssen [Lisbeth Salander -The Girl With...] I did not know Ann Holt at all until May. I picked up one of her books in the Mobile Library Van. "Death of the Demon". It had a positive comment from Val McDermid on the back. [I like Val D, she's a knowledgeable woman and a good writer, so decided to try it] I really enjoyed it. It featured a detective, Hanne Wilhelmson

Then I found "What Dark Clouds Hide" - which is part of AH's other series. These are about a husband and wife team, Detective Adam Stubo and Johanne Vik [psychologist] It was the last in the series AS/JV series, but I managed to get hold of "Punishment" - the first of the 5, which helped set things into context. 

When the mobile library van returned last week [it broke down in June!] I stocked up on these - two Vik/Stubo, one Wilhelmsen [this latter is only half as thick as the others]. This is probably best defined as 'overkill' !!

Holt was formerly Minister Of Justice in Norway, and writes with an in depth knowledge of her subject. [I cannot imagine Liz Truss, or Michael Gove who have been MofJ in the UK producing literature of this quality!!] She has been writing for 30 years and is Norway's best-selling female crime writer.

She deftly breaks up the violent, challenging storylines with off-beat police procedurals, and the struggles of ordinary family life and relationships. And yes, her cops all have complicated back-stories, just like so many other fictional detectives.

The Norwich libraries seem well stocked with the books, so I should be able to work my way through them quite quickly. It seems bizarre to sit in the peaceful Norfolk sunshine reading of crimes in the Norwegian snows...

The Vik/Stubo series has been published under the overall title "Modus" and you may have caught some of that on TV a few years back in BBC4s Saturday night Eurocrime slot. 

If you like the other Nordic Noir writers, give these a go. Bob is sure Jo Nesbo is actually Welsh, and insists on pronouncing his name "Jones Bo" - and by the way the JN website says Harry Hole is pronounced with the o as in pool, and the e as in ethnic. Harry Hool-e! So now you know.

Sunday Night: watch out for Professor T, the Belgian detective, in a new series on ITV starring Ben Miller [this time in English, and not subtitled] and French detective Baptiste returns on BBC

Friday, 16 July 2021

Heel For Heel, And Toe For Toe...

I love this Scottish folk tune, so toe-tappingly cheery. This is a recent recording of "Mairi's wedding" - produced under lockdown. 

I have been looking into the history, and the lyrics was originally written in Gaelic, in the 1930s to honour Mary MacNiven, The music was an old Scottish folk tune. Mary was a Scottish Folksinger, who won a gold medal at the National Mod [a music and culture festival, similar to the Welsh Eisteddfod] in 1934. Subsequently in 1936, new English lyrics were written, and it was renamed The Lewis Bridal Song/Mairi's Wedding - intriguingly, Mary did not marry until 1940 [to a sea captain] In 1959 dance steps were devised for the tune. The song has been popular for over 80 years, and the dance is frequently performed at Scottish weddings.

The reason I have been humming it to myself for the last couple of days is that I have treated myself to some new shoes. My ancient blue canvas plimsolls have got so thin "if I stood on a thruppencer I could tell you if it was 'eads or tails" as my Grandad would have said. 

My new ones [from Muji] have an arch support built in, and are exceedingly comfortable. They are water repellant, organic cotton. I am happily skipping along, heel-for-heel and toe-for-toe.

Mairi MacNiven lived to the ripe old age of 92 - all that singing and dancing clearly kept her fit!

Thursday, 15 July 2021

Cuts And Crosses

I have been doing a few more of the little cross stitch motifs in the evenings whilst watching TV **- and then the other afternoon I fetched my Big Shot Due-Cut machine and my WRMK envelope maker down from the box in the loft and had an afternoon of papercrafting. There are a number of weddings/wedding anniversaries coming up, so I wanted to make a batch of cards for them.

I used the Tattered Lace die cut I bought a few years back. I'd got a folder of 12" heavy scrapbooking paper- which provide cream and french navy for the cards, and a patterned design which made the envelopes.

With the trimmings from the cards, I was able to make some gift tags ready for the gifts I'll be making for some babies due soon.

I decided the little gift tags with the magazine would be more useful as little cards - so here they are.

Some I decorated with a tiny bow, others I attached with my rivet punch. That was not too successful - I had to put a small punched cover over the inside of the rivet as it was a little sharp.

I still have Aida cloth and threads left - plus the 8 gift tags which came in the original kit.

**Yes I did watch the match on Sunday night [first time since 1966 that I have watched an entire football match on TV] I am a little sad that England lost - but really sad about the way some of the players have been verbally abused since. It is absolutely disgusting.

Let's just recognise that Marcus Rashford is going to be remembered for years to come - not because he missed one penalty, but because this courageous young man stood up to the self-centred politicians, to ensure that children got the food they needed. God bless you Marcus - thank you for what you have done for the country

In the Great Scheme Of Things, feeding the hungry matters infinitely more than scoring a goal. 


Wednesday, 14 July 2021

Picky Pakoras

If my #word365 is 'adventure' then that has to include being more adventurous in the kitchen. I wanted to try making some pakora/bhaji type snacks. My Meera Sodha book had just one recipe, and that used a lot of red and green chillies. Too spicy for me. 

But I liked the fact that she baked rather than deep-friend them. I found a recipe online hereI made some as part of our 'picky' lunch, with little dishes of 'mango chupney' on the side.**

ingredients [makes 8]

  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 small potato
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • Twist black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 heaped teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 tsp dried coriander​ leaves
  • 75g chickpea [gram] flour


  1. Grate the carrot and potato
  2. Add all ingredients into a mixing bowl (except the chickpea flour)
  3. Sift the chickpea flour (to avoid lumps) on top of the ingredients in the bowl.
  4. Mix all ingredients together thoroughly,using your hands. Once everything starts to combine then compress with your hands until everything is wonderfully melded together.
  5. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  6. Spoon dessert sized spoon dollops onto the baking tray. Compress down slightly .
  7. Bake in a preheated oven 200°C for about 25 minutes. You want them baking really hot in order to cook through and crisp a little on the edges (but not to burn).
The recipe says "Enjoy with mango chutney right away as a starter, snack, or as part of a curry night medley. They work nicely cold the next day in a lunch box. Alternatively, reheat under a grill for a few minutes." - but we ate all of them immediately.

** 'picky lunch' is Rosie's term for a meal where you can pick and choose - more fun than 'buffet', don't you think!


Tuesday, 13 July 2021

Less Passion In The Bedroom, Please!

It was just before 7amI brought two cups of tea into the bedroom, and set one each side of the bed. "Good morning, darling, I love you!" I said. Then I opened the curtains to see what sort of day it was. And took a step back

Look! A tendril from the passion flower outside was creeping through the window, ready to take over!

"Triffids!" I declared. "We must make sure to get out there and prune it back later, before it takes over, and strangles us i our sleep" [Bob sipped his tea silently, I think he thought I was over -reacting]

But later in the day we went outside with secateurs in hand to do the trimming. I love passion flowers and was really pleased when this appeared in our garden. 

A previous neighbour planted one her side, and it spread across to our garden. The next neighbour uprooted it, but ours thrived. Last summer it grew all over the satellite dish next door [do people still use them? or are they just left there as a reminder of obsolete technology?]

When we got to Ferndown, there was a runner bean 'pyramid' in the garage. I never did get any beans grown. But it came with us in April, and I used the frame to support the passiflora.

As you can see, it has worked quite well - but now at the top, the plant is clearly making a bid for the neighbour's dish and our bedroom window.There are only two blooms open at the minute- and more than 30 buds waiting for their moment to shine. 

If you don't know how the Passion Flower got its name, read this

Monday, 12 July 2021

Books, Bugs, Bargains

One thing I'm enjoying in retirement is having time to visit other nearby villages. On Saturday morning we went over to Horsford - a 20 minute drive - to explore, and enjoy the Yard Sale. There was a very friendly atmosphere. We parked close to the school, and bought a map [£1] Fortified by well filled bacon baps and mugs of tea, [£8] we set off.

The street names were rainbow coloured. Apparently this was done towards the start of the pandemic as a thank you from the community to the NHS. There were well over 40 sales pitches - including the Parish Hall and the Methodist Chapel. Because it was primarily a school event, a high proportion of the sellers are were young families, with children's clothes, toys and books - but also bric a brac and small pieces of furniture. Bob bought two screwdrivers to refurbish [£1] Here's my haul... 

Two children's books [£1] cookbook [50p] A lovely magnetic dress-me-up book [only 20p] Three yards of pretty ribbon [50p] and a brand new bug viewer [50p]  It was 11:15, coffee-time, so we  went to the Parish Hall. Splendid tea and cake, eaten in the fresh air [£2]
We walked back to the car and I broke my £1 item-limit by spending £4 on this large fuchsia in a 10" pot. I hope it produces good blooms. We gave away our map to a couple who had just parked their car, but were some distance from either of the places where they were on sale. 
Food and map - £11 purchases £7.70 total spend £18.70

The bug viewer is excellent - very simple to use. Rosie came over later and we spent a while studying an ant in detail.  The Bug Book is really informative. Once again I was surprised by the range of Ro's knowledge of creation.The magnetic book is from Jojo Maman Bebe and features their children's clothes. I put all the pieces on a metal baking sheet to enable Rosie to see and select outfits. 
I think I really got my money's worth with these. 
I'm not sure about the cookbook - Thomasina is very fond of using lots of chillies, which I don't like. 
All in all a lovely morning, my Fitbit recorded a step count of 10K+ and the weather stayed fine. 
The people were all friendly. Strangest comment was when one seller told us that the previous chap had asked, in all seriousness "Do you have any guns for sale?" We were as baffled as she was by such a question. 

Sunday, 11 July 2021

Guarded Remarks

Last Sunday afternoon, we went for a walk around the ruins of the castle at Castle Acre.

This is an amazing earthwork, and we enjoyed clambering up to the walls, built with Norfolk flint - a castle of some sort has stood here since Roman times [when the Romans were trying to keep Boudicca and her Iceni warriors from causing trouble] It is sited on 'The Peddar's Way' - the ancient Roman route which was later walked by pilgrims to Walsingham.

The Romans would have kept troops here- a garrison - to repel those warriors. I found myself thinking about Paul's words in Philippians chapter 4

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4;6&7

The word guard there is from the Greek word for garrison. That suggests quite a lot of protection. Later Bob was looking for some A3 paper- and tucked inside the large flat packet, there was one of Steph's artworks. She did this [I think] during her A level years. It is a mixed media painting/printing/collage piece, with hands clasped in prayer, and those verses from the epistle on the right, and reflective metallic paint . I found a clip frame and hung it up.

The photograph has not come out too well - so you cannot see the words clearly. But I am so glad to have found it again, I love these verses.

Saturday, 10 July 2021

Fishing For Compliments

I used to make meatloaf a lot in days gone by, a good way of using up leftover meat, padding out a small amount with veg and breadcrumbs to stretch it...Good served hot, or cold, with salad, potatoes, bread, or other carbs...

The other Saturday in the Guardian, Yotam Ottolenghi posted a meatloaf recipe using with canned tuna. He suggested it for picnics. I have to say it turned out way better than I expected. Delicious with new potatoes and salad on a Sunday, and great sandwiches on Monday - nothing else added, just some ketchup spread on the bread. Tuesday with mash and veg. I forgot to take photos. Follow the recipe, chill it well, and then store in a Lock&Lock. I used some leftover regular bread - no pita to hand, and only 2 garlic cloves, and I had no parmesan, so I substituted some goats cheese. Here's the article [and his picture - mine actually looked just like the picture!!]

Serve slices of this tuna loaf with a salad or, even better, stuff them into sandwiches. For a picnic in the park, fry and cool the slices before transporting, but if you’re serving them at a garden picnic at home, set up a DIY sandwich station with a selection of filings, and let everyone create their own sandwich.

Prep 15 min, Cook 55 min, Cool 2½ hr, Serves 4-6

220g cherry tomatoes
½ onion, peeled and roughly chopped (40g net weight)
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
80g parmesan, cut into roughly 2cm chunks
40g tomato paste
30g mayonnaise
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1½ tsp ground cumin
1 tsp sweet mild paprika
¾ tsp chilli flakes
2 eggs
150g pita, torn into roughly 2cm chunks
Salt and black pepper
3 x 160g tins tuna in olive oil, drained and the oil reserved
60g baby capers, drained
25g basil leaves, finely chopped

  • Heat the oven to 200°C and grease and line a standard 9cm x 24cm loaf tin 
  • Put the tomatoes, onion, garlic, parmesan, tomato paste, mayonnaise, mustard, cumin, paprika, chilli flakes, eggs, bread, half a teaspoon of salt and plenty of pepper in a food processor, then pulse to a rough, wet paste.
  •  Scrape the mixture into a large bowl, add the tuna, capers, basil and two tablespoons of the reserved tuna oil, then fold to combine. Spoon this into the lined tin, and mould the top into a loaf shape. Brush the top of the loaf with a tablespoon of the reserved tuna oil.
  • Bake for 45 minutes, basting the loaf with a bit more tuna oil after 15 and 30 minutes,then remove and leave to cool for 15 minutes. Unmould the loaf, transfer it to a rack and leave to cool completely for about two and a half hours. Once cooled, carefully cut the loaf into 2½cm-thick slices and brush both sides of each slice with some of the remaining tuna oil.
  • Heat a large, non-stick frying pan on a medium-high heat. Once hot, fry the slices, in batches if need be, for two minutes on each side, or until they have a nice golden crust. Serve with salad or in a sandwich.

Made it on a Saturday afternoon - and it fed us well for three days. Bob was very positive about it. More fish, more salads...our diet is improving.

Friday, 9 July 2021

Reduce, Refuse, Reuse, Recycle

It's "Plastic Free July" again. It's 30 years since the term "compassion fatigue" was coined to define the burnout which affected caregivers, and their ability to nurture [and then the way that people 'switched off' whenever charity appeals were shown on TV] Is there an equivalent 'eco-fatigue'? Are we being so determined to bring home the message about saving the planet that we are just turning people off? 

What's the point of recycling my rubbish and using a water bottle/reusable coffee cup when the rest of the people in my office are using disposable cups and single use bottles? What difference does my action make?

How can young Mums use washable nappies when nurseries refuse to take children unless they are in disposables? And the NHS/GPs will no longer use glass and steel syringes needing to be sterilised, when they find single-use ones quicker, cheaper, and more hygienic. 

And once travel bans are lifted, it seems that many people will be jetting off all over the place- one short hop flight to Europe in September will wipe out all the green activities they did from January to August. What's the point? Some scientists are saying we have already gone too far...

It is hard, and none of us is perfect in this regard. We all have inconsistencies. Everybody reading this is doing so on a device which has a lot of single use plastic in it! My daily medications from the pharmacy come in mixed material packaging - I commended the manager of the pharmacy for sourcing my Vitamin D capsules in a recyclable bottle - but the next time they came in a foil/plastic sheet inside a cardboard box again. 

Whilst I am annoyed that Sainsbury's teabags are now 'fairly traded' and no long 'fairtrade'., they have at last moved over to plant based compostable plastic in their tea bags. But other things on my weekly shopping list still have some sort of plastic wrapping.

Steph has been telling me about OPRL - the On-Pack Recycling Label scheme. This independent, pioneering, expert, ethical company works across industry in Britain to enable manufacturers of all goods [food, clothing, homewares etc] to have a consistent labelling system so people can quickly spot what may be recycled and what can't. 

This not-for-profit company is doing superb work making it easier for the consumer to see what their packaging is made from, and how best to dispose of it.

You will have seen the OPRL symbols and not realised there was an award winning campaign behind it.

There are well over 600 companies now using the scheme - and more are joining each week. If I must buy something in a plastic container, it is helpful to know if and how I can recycle it. 

This sort of thing is so informative. And now they are introducing a range of labels to show whether containers can be refilled

Yes, the ideal situation would be no plastic - but there are times when we can refuse packaging, and if that is not possible, we can re-use it- and hopefully recycle it. 

I love the fact that my veg now comes from a very thoughtful supplier 

  • the cucumbers are naked [and grown less than 5 miles from the outlet] 
  • serve yourself loose veg goes into paper bags - which I reuse and eventually recycle 
  • pre-weighed stuff [eg apples] does come in plastic bags, but they are generously sized and very loosely knotted at the top. It is easy to untie the knot and then I have an A4 sized bag which can be used for all sorts of things before it goes to landfill
  • the soft fruits are in recyclable plastic trays, or compostable pressed paper.
Our village shop/Post Office sells loose fruit and veg too. I visited the new Refill Shop in Dereham recently, and felt the price mark up was a bit too much. I've not reverted to glass milk bottles either. 
But I am doing a little, here and there - and I am sure that is the right way forward - for all of us.  It's Wimbledon fortnight [well done AELTC for working hard to reduce plastic use, and having an environment day last week - do check out the details] so I will close with some favourite words from the late, great Arthur Ashe