Monthly Archives: March 2009

The failed toffee apple sauce that didn't really

I went to my parents on Friday to help prepare for the joint party for my dad and my brother, the first turned 60 and the second turned 18 last week.

I didn’t get the best of starts; I decided I wasn’t prepared to take a bus to town that would take 45 minutes while I could walk to town in about an hour, so I did, and I froze! I forgot just how cold the wind was going to be, and leather jacket, jeans and gloves notwithstanding, I got really really cold!

That said, I got the council tax paid and my books back to the library before buying the final gift (brother’s) and heading for the bus station – to miss the bus by five minutes. These busses go once an hour, so I had 55 minutes to kill, and the greengorcers I wanted to go to has closed down and become a nail bar, so that wasn’t much help either. I went into Iceland for a bit and got a cheesecake for the cooks to share (yes, cooks plural!) before we plunged into preparing for the party on Saturday. It didn’t use up much time though, and I was still shivering in the bus station waiting for the bus to come for a good twenty minutes.

Anyway. The bus came in on time, I climbed on, bag and baggage, paid for my ticket, kicked my overnight case up the bus since it had fallen over and the proceeded to donate the entire contents of my wallet to the bus floor. Being impatient I’d forgotten to rezip my wallet and so when I reached down to put my bags and case tidy by the seat, the wallet tipped over and everything went everywhere! Collected the change, huffed and puffed to myself – at myself, and settled down to listen to some music while admiring the countryside and the stormclouds whilst relatively protected from all of it. The rest of the journey wasn’t too bad, no missed connections, no scarey people climbing on (occupational hazard of using public transport, “the public” are perfectly entitled to use it no matter what they look or smell like).

Got off the bus in Daventry and marched into the nicely located Tesco to get the various bits and bobs needed for my contribution to the food. Interesting list, brown sugar, butter, lemons, lemon juice, basil, rosemary, mint, mangoes, chocolate topping. I have long learned never to assume people carry the same things in their pantry as you, so if something can’t be faked, buy it, or take it from your own pantry! Halfway round the fruit and veg in tesco, Mum rang to find out where I was and met me in there to sort out what I needed to get and what she needed to get. Paid for the stuff (nice store, customer service not bad either!) and climbed in the car for the final leg to the house.

Mum and I sat down for coffee with MG and K and shared out a sticky toffee cheesecake that blew all of our diets out of the window for the day, even as I promised that my mango dessert for tomorrow would repair all of that! We tidied away all our shopping and got dinner sorted, and then I plunged up to my elbows in making mango sorbet, which was ridiculously simple to do for such a nice tasting pudding, and it was fat free, gluten free and dairy free to boot, which meant it ticked all the diet boxes needed for the people we were feeding. Having got that in the freezer I started homemade lemonade (courtesy of Molly of Orangette while MG helped me get chocolate chip cookies going; again, courtesy of another one of Molly’s recipes. I have to say I was surprised how chocolatey they were when we got the dough finally mixed – and I now sport two plasters on my left thumb because of them!

On Saturday morning, sisters B and K arrived bearing good things in boxes and on trays and every female in sight joined the fray in the kitchen. K’s fiance C showed his face, kissed his girl, said hello, and departed to give male assistance outside in the cold with barbecues and chairs. Not all the men rushed to join that fray though, KS and NS stayed in to do things like make marinade for chicken and chop onions for burgers – as I understand it, since it’s for barbecuing; a manly form of cooking, this kind of prep is OK! We girls stuck to thinks like arranging salad on platters, baking off cookies, icing a monster birthday cake, straining and making up homemade lemonade, finishing various desserts and assembling virgin punch (lots of children, so no alcoholic drinks in the punch)

Brother S has massive amounts of imagination when it comes to gifts, and we were rolling around laughing as the birthday boys opened their many and wonderful gifts. He also has a cracking sense of humour, which probably helped with the gift buying a lot. Things like Dad’s favourite bottle of pop, cheese, a pineappple, ground coffee, number candles for D. To be honest I can’t remember all of them, but the whole experience was just great – “I had £X to spend and I finished up with 4p change at the end, how cool is that?” he said at the end. I got insense for the younger and ground coffee and a framed picture of a photo of my own for the older, less imaginative, and less bulky for all the journeys I’d made to get them to the right location!

Just after 1pm the grills got fired up, and not long after that everyone else arrived. It’s just as well that the house my parents live in is so big, KS and NS were grilling away and food had been announced so folks were going outside to get there burgers and chicken and stuff, when the heavens opened and everyone got drenched! Needless to say a group of people grabbed the food and ran for the kitchen, and the barbecue was continued from the top of the six ring stove! From that first sharp rain shower we got more rain and hail, so sixty-odd people continued the party within the ground floor of the house and we left the garden to freeze by itself. K’s salads got demolished, closely followed by B’s trifle, sticky toffee tart and my cookies and mango sorbet. Even the “failed” toffee apple sauce made by B was a hit, on cookies, sorbet and pretty much anything really!

When the eating slowed, we decided it was time for “The Cake”, and after various speeches and much laughter and posing like it was a wedding cake, the cake was cut twice. Dad cut vertical, D cut horizontal, and again there was a great deal of laughter.

For a “do” where no alcohol was served – Dad’s choice – it was very full of laughter, and I think I’ll remember this for a very long time, even without all the photos and this post.

There was a general air of mates meeting up and catching up and having a good laugh, right down to the dead-leg competition between the lads near the end – crazy amounts of laughter going on, and all in total good fun.

Going home was a little easier than coming, connections worked with me the whole time, although I had a grumpy passenger right in front of me on the bus who turned and stared at me every time I moved. I mean, those seats are not really designed for comfort and there’s no legroom if you’re more than 5’4″, and I’m considerably more than that, with a good proportion of it being leg! That aside, it was OK though, with just a chilly twenty minute wait for the final bus – no way was I going to walk it home – part of it taken up by telling a partly drunk homeless person that I wasn’t about to give him money, that if he wanted to eat I’d rather buy him food than give him money to use in possibly other ways.

All in all, it’s been a good weekend. There were down moments, but when it’s public like this I try not to share tham. I’d rather give people something a little more positive to read and not drag them down even farther than thay might already be.

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The failed toffee apple sauce that didn’t really

I went to my parents on Friday to help prepare for the joint party for my dad and my brother, the first turned 60 and the second turned 18 last week.

I didn’t get the best of starts; I decided I wasn’t prepared to take a bus to town that would take 45 minutes while I could walk to town in about an hour, so I did, and I froze! I forgot just how cold the wind was going to be, and leather jacket, jeans and gloves notwithstanding, I got really really cold!

That said, I got the council tax paid and my books back to the library before buying the final gift (brother’s) and heading for the bus station – to miss the bus by five minutes. These busses go once an hour, so I had 55 minutes to kill, and the greengorcers I wanted to go to has closed down and become a nail bar, so that wasn’t much help either. I went into Iceland for a bit and got a cheesecake for the cooks to share (yes, cooks plural!) before we plunged into preparing for the party on Saturday. It didn’t use up much time though, and I was still shivering in the bus station waiting for the bus to come for a good twenty minutes.

Anyway. The bus came in on time, I climbed on, bag and baggage, paid for my ticket, kicked my overnight case up the bus since it had fallen over and the proceeded to donate the entire contents of my wallet to the bus floor. Being impatient I’d forgotten to rezip my wallet and so when I reached down to put my bags and case tidy by the seat, the wallet tipped over and everything went everywhere! Collected the change, huffed and puffed to myself – at myself, and settled down to listen to some music while admiring the countryside and the stormclouds whilst relatively protected from all of it. The rest of the journey wasn’t too bad, no missed connections, no scarey people climbing on (occupational hazard of using public transport, “the public” are perfectly entitled to use it no matter what they look or smell like).

Got off the bus in Daventry and marched into the nicely located Tesco to get the various bits and bobs needed for my contribution to the food. Interesting list, brown sugar, butter, lemons, lemon juice, basil, rosemary, mint, mangoes, chocolate topping. I have long learned never to assume people carry the same things in their pantry as you, so if something can’t be faked, buy it, or take it from your own pantry! Halfway round the fruit and veg in tesco, Mum rang to find out where I was and met me in there to sort out what I needed to get and what she needed to get. Paid for the stuff (nice store, customer service not bad either!) and climbed in the car for the final leg to the house.

Mum and I sat down for coffee with MG and K and shared out a sticky toffee cheesecake that blew all of our diets out of the window for the day, even as I promised that my mango dessert for tomorrow would repair all of that! We tidied away all our shopping and got dinner sorted, and then I plunged up to my elbows in making mango sorbet, which was ridiculously simple to do for such a nice tasting pudding, and it was fat free, gluten free and dairy free to boot, which meant it ticked all the diet boxes needed for the people we were feeding. Having got that in the freezer I started homemade lemonade (courtesy of Molly of Orangette while MG helped me get chocolate chip cookies going; again, courtesy of another one of Molly’s recipes. I have to say I was surprised how chocolatey they were when we got the dough finally mixed – and I now sport two plasters on my left thumb because of them!

On Saturday morning, sisters B and K arrived bearing good things in boxes and on trays and every female in sight joined the fray in the kitchen. K’s fiance C showed his face, kissed his girl, said hello, and departed to give male assistance outside in the cold with barbecues and chairs. Not all the men rushed to join that fray though, KS and NS stayed in to do things like make marinade for chicken and chop onions for burgers – as I understand it, since it’s for barbecuing; a manly form of cooking, this kind of prep is OK! We girls stuck to thinks like arranging salad on platters, baking off cookies, icing a monster birthday cake, straining and making up homemade lemonade, finishing various desserts and assembling virgin punch (lots of children, so no alcoholic drinks in the punch)

Brother S has massive amounts of imagination when it comes to gifts, and we were rolling around laughing as the birthday boys opened their many and wonderful gifts. He also has a cracking sense of humour, which probably helped with the gift buying a lot. Things like Dad’s favourite bottle of pop, cheese, a pineappple, ground coffee, number candles for D. To be honest I can’t remember all of them, but the whole experience was just great – “I had £X to spend and I finished up with 4p change at the end, how cool is that?” he said at the end. I got insense for the younger and ground coffee and a framed picture of a photo of my own for the older, less imaginative, and less bulky for all the journeys I’d made to get them to the right location!

Just after 1pm the grills got fired up, and not long after that everyone else arrived. It’s just as well that the house my parents live in is so big, KS and NS were grilling away and food had been announced so folks were going outside to get there burgers and chicken and stuff, when the heavens opened and everyone got drenched! Needless to say a group of people grabbed the food and ran for the kitchen, and the barbecue was continued from the top of the six ring stove! From that first sharp rain shower we got more rain and hail, so sixty-odd people continued the party within the ground floor of the house and we left the garden to freeze by itself. K’s salads got demolished, closely followed by B’s trifle, sticky toffee tart and my cookies and mango sorbet. Even the “failed” toffee apple sauce made by B was a hit, on cookies, sorbet and pretty much anything really!

When the eating slowed, we decided it was time for “The Cake”, and after various speeches and much laughter and posing like it was a wedding cake, the cake was cut twice. Dad cut vertical, D cut horizontal, and again there was a great deal of laughter.

For a “do” where no alcohol was served – Dad’s choice – it was very full of laughter, and I think I’ll remember this for a very long time, even without all the photos and this post.

There was a general air of mates meeting up and catching up and having a good laugh, right down to the dead-leg competition between the lads near the end – crazy amounts of laughter going on, and all in total good fun.

Going home was a little easier than coming, connections worked with me the whole time, although I had a grumpy passenger right in front of me on the bus who turned and stared at me every time I moved. I mean, those seats are not really designed for comfort and there’s no legroom if you’re more than 5’4″, and I’m considerably more than that, with a good proportion of it being leg! That aside, it was OK though, with just a chilly twenty minute wait for the final bus – no way was I going to walk it home – part of it taken up by telling a partly drunk homeless person that I wasn’t about to give him money, that if he wanted to eat I’d rather buy him food than give him money to use in possibly other ways.

All in all, it’s been a good weekend. There were down moments, but when it’s public like this I try not to share tham. I’d rather give people something a little more positive to read and not drag them down even farther than thay might already be.

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To new experiences

Yesterday was some day. I spent part of the day hand writing a blog to post when I got home, and then got so busy I had no space to even think of blogs. Not sure how it happened, but I arrived at work soaking wet and expecting bad tempers and boredom, and actually got fairly good moods and lots to do. The lots to do turned out to be interesting stuff too, stuff that I never expected to learn or do, particularly at this stage of the game, but I did it and it was quite good fun!

The one dissappointment in the day was that my haemoglobin level was just not quite high enough to donate blood. Having been such an unwell child, donating blood feels like my way to say thanks to the NHS for keeping me alive as a wee one – and a way to make sure someone else gets the chance to stay alive too.

Today, well, I haven’t been to work yet; but I’m still in a happy frame of mind. My kitchen is clean(!) right down as far as the floor, and I cooked a tasty, fairly healthy lunch of chicken and 4 veggies and potatoes, and promptly made two salads for eating at work.

I really am not to sure where this frame of mind has come from, and I really pray that I don’t crash out, because I like it a lot. I am proving daily to myself how much nicer it is to live in a clean and tidy home, cook proper meals and wash up before I get tired and don’t want to.

Best get dressed though, the boss won’t appreiciate tiger pyjamas turning up to work…

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The dangers of chocolate

Giving in is not a good thing. One of out girls at work went on maternity leave yesterday, and chocolate was available in large quantities.

I know very well that I can’t eat chocolate in any great quantity, and even though I ate less than everyone else, I’ve still managed to eat too much. I’ve got a fairsized headache.

I shall have to find another food for celebratory events that doesn’t hurt when I eat lots of it!

I got pretty stressed during the week, and that very likely didn’t help matters either.

Sorry, I’ve nothing better to say for myself today, although going to the bar as part of the celebration of the matermity leave was good. I know for sure I didn’t drink too much, so don’t accuse me of having a hangover!

Maybe I can blog something better than this when my headache goes.

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A walk on a Sunday Morning

I’ve been in a Bad Mood all week, so come Friday night I had a glass of something nice and went to bed – and stayed there pretty much for 36 hours. It turned out that the change from night sift to late shift was harder than I thought it would be and I was simply really tired and stressed with trying to deal with life as it usually appears. I slept Friday night, a lot of Saturday and all of Saturday night too. I think that might be something of a record, but it worked. I woke up in a much more normal frame of mind and able to think about something other than how much I hate the things I don’t like!

That said, this morning there was bright sunshine, and I wanted some bread and other bits from the supermarket, so I put on some spring/summer clothes (read skirt, vest and cardigan! Oh, and sandals), picked up my shopping bags and went the pretty way to the smaller Tesco around here.

I was ambling along as you do when the weather’s nice and it’s Springtime; looking at the wildflowers and catkins and leafbuds and enjoying the sound of the river, only to realise that there were people on the same path – a disused railway line – who were paying absolutely no attention to a season that is as short as this.

Runners. Charging past treasures that will be gone in a couple of weeks. Not seeing the new leaves, the cherry blossoms, the pattern of tree branches against the sky. I felt so sorry for them. Spring doesn’t last long. The catkins dry up, the leaves burst open and turn the darker green of Summer, the grass grows and hides the speedwell and celandines and similar wildflowers.

That said, there were plenty of people easing along on a bike, or wandering like me; just out to see what was there as well as getting a breath of fresh air. People who had time to smile and say “good morning”.

It felt good, and the best bit was that once I got to Tesco I was too early and had time to sit and enjoy the sunshine before doing my shopping and then wandering home along the same railway line and seeing everything from the opposite direction.

So don’t worry, the runners didn’t spoil my lunch and I am now the proud owner of a tall clear pepper milll filled with rainbow peppercorns. I look forward to putting it all over tonight’s salmon!

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Work is good sometimes!

Dad was grumbling on the phone again. I rang to ask what he’d like to do to celebrate turning a certain age, and it turned into a bit of a grumble session about how he felt about life the universe and everything!

So, as you’d expect, being the good daughter that I am, I tried to give some helpful thoughts and then departed for work with a lot of angst rumbling round my little head. So much so (apparently) that some people thought they were taking their lives in their hands just to say hello. Well, being at work has certain therapeutic qualities. I can think while I work, bounce ideas off people, and generally calm down to a point where I can think clearly again.

I remembered that Dad was a baker in a former lifetime, and on occasion still likes to bake at home. Dad also used to have an allotment and still enjoys gardening. Dad has a part time hobby repairing shoes. Dad likes to walk. Bit of an active, frustration-killing theme going there, so I rang him up again and reminded him of them.

You know you’re on to something good when the person on the end of the phone sound more cheerful in 30 seconds than they have in 2 months, that’s all I’ll say! The last call didn’t take long, but I think it helped a bit.

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What a difference a bike ride makes

I had planned to moan about what an awful shift I had last night. I was going to say about how the shift rushed by me and I didn’t achieve what I wanted to.

Then I finished and unlocked the bike to come home. It’s a lovely day. The sky is clear, it was light. There was frost on the grass, swans on the lake and hardly any cars on the road to annoy me!

Supper is in the oven, and I have plans for Orangette‘s chocolate chip cookies later today, probably after work when I can’t sleep.

It’s such a relief though. I had a nagging headache and the remains of toothache all night, all I wanted when I walked out of work was an alcoholic drink and a couple of painkillers followed by supper and bed. Now I feel a heck of a lot better and don’t feel a desperate urge for a glass of wine. Tea will do fine I think.

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Sleep and catching up the housework

Oh, wonderful sleep!

I’ve had trouble sleeping at night because of working night shift. Each friday I come home from work and pamper myself madly hoping I’ll be able to sleep; but it’s a bit of a fruitless exercise, much like hoping a dayshift worker could sleep for the night from 2pm – just not going to happen!

So, I’m turning into a reclusive nightshifter temporarily to save myself from my own temper tantrums. There’s no use in trying to sleep when my body thinks it daytime.

I have started doing what the FLYlady calls getting started. Just do one thing at once. I’ve cleared the hotspot on the settee and folded up the futon and I’ve got the washing going, I think that’ll do for now, and the rest can happen tomorrow; including enough washing up to get some baking done.

There’s washing to hang, it’s going on the washing line for the first time this year, then I’m going to enjoy a DVD before heading anywhere near bed. 6am is early enough to try to sleep I think.

Sleep well!

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