Tuesday, 21 May 2019

May Cookery Book

Hello there, it's been a while since Penny at The Homemade Heart ran her Cookery Calendar Challenge. I'd fully intended to carry on with it regardless but... I didn't. Strangely I've missed the challenge of finding 2 meals to cook from a cookery book each month. So I thought I would dust off some of my forgotten cookery books again and see which ones inspire me to 'have a go' and which ones I'll be sending to the charity shop.

Whilst testing food on the Fodmap diet, I've been put me off baking and experimenting with new meals lately. With tomato seeming to be an issue still, I've decided to 'try' and embrace change. I may not be able to eat all that I want but I can eat more than I thought.

So on 'my' continuing mission, these are the voyages of my celebration of food, its continuing mission to feed my family, to seek out new ingredients and enjoy long forgotten ones. To boldly go where I've not been for a very long time.

Unlike Star Trek, I won't be exploring the galaxy, instead I'll explore the pantry and bookshelf. I'll be using the above cookbook which the teens bought me last year for Mother's Day. I should point out that though it says Grandma's Cookbook, I am not a Grandma. It is a lovely book but I confess, I've only chosen one recipe to cook this time. I've found a few others that I'd like but as yet I've not made them.

Banana and Poppy Seed Muffins

To get me started I chose a recipe from the breakfast section - Banana and Poppy Seed Muffin. I made mine with gluten free flour, a mixed blend from Doves flour. I have some in the pantry still and I've become accustomed to the texture, though it can be grainy and dry, it's not sticky like regular flour can be. People who don't eat cake will often say that it's the stickiness around their teeth that they dislike.

Apart from pastry, I prefer the non-stickiness of gluten free baking. I appreciate that Coeliacs and other restricted diets don't have a choice and have to stick with a gluten free diet. People sometimes chose - 'opting' for certain diets such as gluten free, vegetarian or vegan which unfortunately can be contentious in restaurants or social gatherings etc but we are free to chose and that's got to be good. 

I'm not sure if these are classed as healthy muffins, the fat is an oil. I'm assuming the more liquid the fat, the healthier it is. Baking for dairy free friends last summer, I substituted butter in some cakes for dairy free fat. I suppose you can swap things around however you need to. They taste delicious in a small dish with natural yoghurt and would equally be nice with a soft cheese icing - such as the topping on a carrot cake.

You do need 3 well ripened bananas, which the recipe requires you to mash first before adding to the rest of the ingredients. Did I do this... no. I simply broke the banana into chunks and tossed them and all the other ingredients in my Braun Multipractic Food Processor. Placing the bowl on the scales, I weighed everything with the blade in place. Then attaching it on the base, processed everything until smooth.

Delia Smith (love her cookery books) would probably be screaming nooo! as she advises lots of air to be incorporated in cakes. As long as it mixes well and preferably doesn't curdle, all will be well. I tend to favour the all-in-one method and always make pastry in my Braun mixer too.

Bacon and Mushroom Quiche

These quiches weren't in the book but I simply fancied cooking them for dinner. Maybe they aren't the sort of thing that Grandmas cook, I'm not sure? Anyway I love making quiche and though I always make variations upon quiche lorraine, I'm constantly improving them all the time. I resent paying for small tasteless things from the supermarkets. I've tried baking the pastry blind and using beans (clay ones) on the base, in the past. This time was ok, no leaks but my pastry base was a bit raw! Any advice would be appreciated.

My quiches are baked in large 12" tins, I always bake two as it's convenient for tomorrow's dinner. These are made with regular flour, in a preheated oven with the tins placed on top of metal trays to make the bases hot. I painted egg yoke on after 15 mins but then sprinkled grated cheese on before the other ingredients.

The fillings are:- (shared between both) - Grated cheese, cooked streaky bacon cut small, a drained tin of mushrooms, black pepper, herbs, double cream and 4 eggs plus 2 extra yokes whisked together. The pastry was shortcrust using 1 lb plain flour, 8 oz fat (I used half cookeen and butter) and cold water to bind into a dough. We cooked the quiche for tonight's dinner, one with chips and a salad, tomorrow we'll eat the other one with a jacket potato and salad.

QT would like to thank you for reading about his life during May. He received a surprising amount of lovely comments which he felt he should respond to purr-sonally. He's quite the little superstar, though as a Maine Coon cat he is slightly larger than your average sized domestic cat. He is quite long and stands tall on his long legs. He's been taking your advice this week, including more rest time in his busy retirement schedule of  'plenty of sleep.'
We love him to bits and think he's worth it.

What do you like to cook that you won't purchase ready made?
Do you have a recipe that you are hoping to improve on?
Do you do batch baking and if so what?

Bye for now
Cathy x

Friday, 17 May 2019

QT in May

Hello there, QT here.
Last weekend before the family BBQ, I popped out for a patrol around the garden. It was a good job I did, as my people were eating outside. I never eat outside, all those bees buzzing about and flies in my food - no thank you! I can tell you what biscuit lady had for lunch - it was a corned beef and salad wrap. I know because she dropped some corned beef on the grass. It was a struggle to find it though due to a cataract forming over one eye, I overheard the vet say that's what the fuzziness is. Honestly it would've been kinder to have made up a plate for me. A bit more corned beef would've been lovely too with some grass, I can't stand bits of carrot, cucumber and lettuce in my lunch. They're a strange lot here.

The bee house saw a lot of visitors this weekend, they came in the house too! My people were running about with a jar and card, opening windows after the tall xbox players yelled - 'I've got a bee in my room!' Shush, can't you see I'm trying to sleep.

It was a lovely warm, sunny weekend, it does my old bones good to feel the warmth on my fur. I've lost quite a bit of weight, my people are worried about me. I heard the message on the answerphone from the Vet, an intrusion in my home I might add. It's one thing to be carted off in the carrier to 'see the nice lady' to make you better but when I'm relaxing in my own home, I really don't want to hear her voice.

Anyway where was I... arh yes, my weight. Yes well I've lost it, it's gone! It doesn't look like it's coming back either. My leg muscles have wasted away, I can still run up the stairs and jump on my their beds and the chairs downstairs. They feed me whatever I want really, the trouble is I don't always know what I want. They just get stocked up with my favourite food of the moment and then I go off it. I'm not being awkward, I'm just not keen on that food at the moment. I often cough up a fur ball, my fur comes out easily, I'm brushed, combed and given fur ball paste or olive oil on my food sometimes, but it's just in my nature to make a mess. It doesn't help with the weight loss though.

It seems I'm to visit the vets every 3 months to check my weight. They've checked my kidney function which is good and with blood pressure and thyroid meds I'm as good as I can be. Nobody listens to me though, I don't want to see the lady every 3 months. Can't she get her own date!

I feel fantastic when the sun's shining on me, I feel like a million dollars. At 18 years old, I feel good. I just like to rest more and take it easy, I'm retired and feel I ought to live the dream to the max. We've all got to do our bit and I'm trying to be the best retired cat that I can be. It's hard let me tell you.

Quiet moments of meditation, because I can, I'm worth it. I've plenty of spare time to be 'mindful' of my world. I know all the latest buzz words - retired, mindful, though who's ever heard of a cat retiring, ha ha? Psst, don't tell my people. Mr Land Rover lover thinks I've never done a days work in my life. I don't bother objecting, why should I, it's too much bother. Also biscuit lady is guaranteed to defend me, she think the sun shines out of my... arhem, you know where.

Ooh, I need to lay down, why sit when you can sunbathe, arrh my favourite bush. Biscuit lady keeps calling me as she wants a photo. What does she want me to do, give a big cheesy grin?
'I'm not in the mood for looking at you and saying cheese! The sun's in my eyes.'

Now if she'd bought me some cheese out here... At this time of year, every year I can be found here on a sunny day. I love it here, the smell, the shade and if I turn my head into the bush, I can see all the young birds learning to fly in safety. If only I was young and more agile, I'd teach them to fly.

Are you still there?
Please, just go away.
Step away from the bush.
I'll be in when I'm ready.

Bye from QT x

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Weekend in May

Hello there, I hope you are well. I've been reading the May issue of my magazine and it's made me ponder the good things this month.

                               MAY ISSUE   Buy,     download    or  subscribe   View the sampler  here


The simple pleasures of a warm sunny day

We've just had 
some amazing weather this weekend in Lincolnshire and to sit outside and enjoy the sunshine was heavenly. So good in fact that on Sunday, we decided to brush off the BBQ and whip up a feast and eat alfresco. Food seems so much better when eaten outside, thankfully we weren't pestered by midges and flies. 

Remembering sun cream, insect repellant and heel cream for wearing sandals
If you're familiar with Lincolnshire UK at all, you'll know that due to the many dykes with standing water, mosquitos are more than a nuisance here.  Many a newcomer has complained about them as they limp to the doctors surgery with an infected swollen bite. It's quite alarming watching the infected areas swell, especially in children.

Teen 1 and his girlfriend 

The season of exams
The teens played swingball and grass bowls with teen 1 girlfriend before and after the BBQ. We are not wearing slippers outside at all! Thinking of UK children and teens taking their SATS, GCSE's and A Levels. Thankful for those teachers who give positive input into their lives and praying a blessing back on them for their dedication.

Newly planted 

Enjoying beautiful flowers
Realising that next season we'll have to get some new hanging baskets. I like these wicker style ones, the rustic look.

New growth after being cut back hard

Long evenings
I'm not sure what this plant is called, husband calls them weeds but I like them. The flowers are dark pink which give such lovely colour now that the daffodils have finished. I had cut them right back to about 6" off the ground only 4 - 6 weeks ago.

Forget Me Not

Of creating memories together as a family
Forget Me Nots - their horticultural name is Myosotis and comes from the Greek, meaning mouse ear. There are many interesting facts about them online, such as - True love, fidelity, a long and lasting connection as well as the well known 'remembering' someone. 

Loved ones
Whilst being mindful of suffering, illness and sadness close to home or far away.
My Mother in law continues with her Chemo treatment. Cancer is such a wicked illness. 

Solomon's Seal

Feeling content and at peace
Knitting and reading my book outside whilst listening to the birds and people mowing their lawns.

Embracing kindness and a friendly disposition, to encourage and build up 
Is May a good month for you?

Do you take time to simply live in the moment?

Is there something you'd like to add to my list?

You've probably noticed that I didn't add planning a holiday. This was deliberate as I concentrated on thinking 'in the moment.'

Have a good week wherever you are, whatever the weather.
Bye for now Cathy x


Sunday, 12 May 2019

Weekend Stitches - Long tail cast on

Weekend Stitches

Hello there, I hope you are well. I've been doing a little knitting and a little unpicking and I thought I'd let you know how it's going and share what I've learnt.

Knitting progress is slow. I will confess to unpicking the first attempt at this piece. I just wasn't happy with the very tight and inflexible cable cast on edge. To be honest, I hadn't tried another method for casting on before, though I'd heard people talking about long tail cast ons. I just thought it was optional or just the method they'd been taught. When I had a quick look on Youtube at other methods, I realised that the different methods were favourable to different projects. 

After determining that the long tail cast on would give a soft and springy edge, I just had to choose a video that I could follow. First I looked at Very Pink Knits on Youtube but it seemed very complicated, then I looked in my The Handknitter's Handbook but couldn't find exactly what I was after, then in true Goldilocks fashion and 3rd time lucky, I saw another video on youtube that was perfect. Laura from Happy Berry, who I'd always associated with crochet, had a tutorial that was just what I needed.

Her video is excellent. Initially I didn't think I'd be able to get the hang of it but I persevered. The poor husband looked on wondering and scratching his head at my muddling attempts.
Do have a look at her video if this interests you, you'll find after a while, you are chanting the instructions in your head.

Long tail Cast On

  • wind yarn around your needle - the number of stitches that you require - ensuring you have enough yarn - then unwind yarn and add an extra few inches - this is the 'long tail'
  • slip knot to begin on needle 
  • closing your hand with the yarn lengths held clasped with your lower fingers
  • push thumb and index finger between the two strands and open a triangle shape - the yarn ball  to thumb, short length of yarn to finger
  • turn palm towards you
  • push needle under thumb yarn
  • twist hand to the side
  • over the top of finger yarn
  • hook loop on your thumb - over the yarn on needle 
  • let go and pull down

Thoughts on the long tail cast on - I like it a lot, it's the simplest method I've seen. It gave the soft elastic, springy edge along the bottom of my cardigan that I was after.

What method do you prefer to cast on?

Thank you for the positive comments on my Craft Project - Link Party last week, there's still time to join in. Craft Project will be back again on the first Tuesday next month.

Bye for now
Cathy x

Monday, 6 May 2019

Craft Project - Link Party - May

Hello there, I hope you are well. Welcome to the Craft Project

A sort of  knit & natter / sewing session in blogland. Today, I'm starting my own Craft Project session, if you'd like to join me and I'd love it if you did, please grab a cuppa, a comfortable chair and your own Craft Project bag. Please add your link below - to your craft project that you're working on so that others can visit with you too. The plan is to start a new party on the first Tuesday of each month.

Many years ago, when I was still a teen myself, I used to visit a lady called Queenie for a cup of tea and a craft session. On arrival she'd make me a cuppa and then she would always ask me - what are you making? What craft project are you working on?

Whether it was in a nice material bag or a carrier bag, I'd take out my project and begin working some more whilst we chatted. Sometimes it was crocheting granny squares, other times it was attempts at embroidery. My Mum bought me a few copies of a magazine called Anna Burba that had iron on transfers of flowers, butterflies and small birds. I tried hard at embroidering on pillowcases but alas it wasn't easy.

I can't remember what exactly we talked about. Sometimes we had biscuits but we always felt better after working and chatting. For me her company was priceless, she was calm and you always felt better for visiting with her. Queenie, who sadly passed away, painted on these stones and gave them to me.

So onto my Craft Project, a cardigan in this yarn - James C Brett Marble Chunky MC 43. The overall red shade has blue and green flecks in it, which I love. One of the ladies in the local knit & natter group acquired an old style pattern - we think somebody had a declutter of their patterns at home and took them along. Suddenly everybody fell in love with the cardigan, the chunky yarn and the speed it was knitting up. Of course mine is slow going, remember finishing projects is not my speciality.

To be fair though, I've been toying with a virus shawl with a variegated yarn cake and some blue pre-knitted yarn to make a waistcoat. I've stopped the waistcoat as it is far too thick a yarn considering it will likely be worn in the summer. Having won the yarn in a raffle, there was a pattern included in the bag for a sort of shawl. I'll probably make that instead and show you another time. Anyway, these have all been put to one side so I'm free to get on with this cardigan.

Below is the Craft Project badge that you may display on your blog if you wish - so others can join in with the Craft Project link up too.

I hope you will join me and I look forward to seeing your projects.

Ps this is the first time I've tried this - hoping it works but if not - I'll try and sort it asap.

Instructions: Select all code above, copy it and paste it inside your blog post HTML

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Friday, 3 May 2019

Up the garden path - It's Friday

Hello there, it's Friday! I hope you are all well. My flowers were a gift from M last week, they're still bringing cheer but are just starting to droop. It's been a funny old week with an appointment at the Dieticians and feeling ill on Wednesday night and most of Thursday. I'm feeling much better now.

The Knit & Natter group took to the road and went on a trip to a wool factory, which is essentially a 'small' warehouse. Lots of lovely squishy balls of wool and patterns were brought home by several members, me included. I bought four balls of yarn, a pattern for another project and 2 balls of cotton yarn, which I'll show you another time. We finished by visiting a cafe for a cuppa and something to eat. I had a slice of delicious Lemon Meringue Pie, before heading home to start some more knitting.
Though the group didn't meet for their usual session with a drink, the trip was fun and we still did the natter part of the Knit & Natter, so that was good.

I've mentioned IBS and the Low Fodmap diet before and people often ask what is that? I've collected some links and basic quick information that may help you, if you are interested in this.
These are the booklets that are used in Lincolnshire NHS to determine which FODMAPs need reducing or eliminating. The Monash University founded in Melbourne Australia, have led the way with research into IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), they found that Fodmaps are short-chain carbohydrates that are rapidly fermented and can be poorly absorbed.
Interestingly Monash University are also known for IVF, seat belts in cars and influenza drugs. 

Fodmaps are -
F Fermentable
O Oligo-saccharides (fructans & galacto-oligosaccharides)
D Di-saccharides (lactose)
M Mono-saccharides (fructose)
A And
P Polyols (sugar alcohols - mannitol and sorbitol)

Here is a snippet of what foods are in each of these groups.

I've recently been testing the last food group for me, which is GOS and why I was ill. After testing all of these - I am intolerant to Sorbitol which is 'part of' the polyols group and GOS (short for) Galacto-oligosaccharides, though I can tolerate a very small portion for a day.
Strangely I was ok with the wheat test initially (tested over a yr ago) but am now unable to eat bread for more than one day. I can eat crumpets and wraps but not so much the crackers and bread for more than a day at a time. Whether the soya flour found in bread has appeared since I first tested it I don't know. Soya is part of the GOS group. Regardless, I've come a long way in finding out what I need to reduce or avoid. I just need to test dates and pistachio nuts, then lastly (not fodmap foods) tomatoes, peppers and spicy foods.

Before I start anymore knitting eg new yarn or continuing my purple jumper, I felt like revisiting this yarn that I'd won in a raffle a very long time ago. I'm making a waistcoat but I don't really have a pattern. The pattern that I'd bought from a wool shop was for super chunky, whereas this is a much thicker yarn. You'll notice that the yarn has already been knitted into a tube. It's still available and there are several patterns online to buy. The waistcoat is a fairly boxy type shape, how hard can it be. Basically I'm using this pattern as a guide only. It's growing fast on size 12mm and 15 mm needles, I'll see how it goes over the weekend. 

I disturbed QT sleeping

Mr QT looking cute on his my bed. Such super long whiskers, even his eyebrows touch his whiskers. Which speaking of Whiskers or rather Whiskas, that's what he's happy to eat 'at the moment.' It's fine chunks and quite smelly. We mash it well with a fork otherwise he'll just lick off the jelly. Both the teens have put boards across their doors to dissuade him from coughing up a fur ball in their rooms. Sometimes he jumps over the top, so it's always a bit of a shock to see him sleeping on their beds. QT is looking out the window in the second picture.  

book cover of Elegy for Eddie

I'm listening to another Maisie Dobbs mystery on audio, very slow but enjoyable. Maisie and her close team of assistants, friends and police at Scotland yard are involved in trying to solve two crimes. It sounds like she has some personal decisions to make and it'll be interesting to see how things turn out.

New path 2019
M has been working outside on a new path to connect the patio area to the main garden path. The photo below shows how it used to look albeit it was under snow last year. Sorry, I couldn't find another before photo. The two conifer trees that we string the Christmas lights on have been removed to lay the path and in front of them (the soil) will now be grass. The trees hid the bins but the roots were lifting the slabs making them dangerous to trip over.

Christmas trees 2018

Thanks for stopping by for a visit.
From a sleepy QT and me, have a lovely weekend.
Cathy x
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