Saturday 30 August 2014

Household Wants

Long before Downton Abbey hit our screens and we saw life below stairs in their kitchens; I spotted a Household Wants Indicator in the television production of The Cazalets.   I hunted all over eBay looking for one and discovered that they are now hugely expensive, due to the surge of interest in historical kitchen items.

Earlier this summer, I received an update from eBay informing me that an item matching my search had been listed.  By the time I read the email, the item had sold.  It was a reproduction without those little tabs which flick over to mark the grocery items that the cook requires, but with little magnetic arrows, which serve the purpose.

A few weeks later, another one was listed and this time, I managed to buy it.  I can add items as I run out of them and hopefully, remember to add them to my grocery list when I go shopping.

Now wouldn't it be wonderful if I could telephone the grocer and have the items delivered?

Friday 29 August 2014

Anyone For Trifle?

Jimmy Young Trifle is a recipe from Gill Halcombe's book How to Feed your Whole Family a Balanced Diet with Very Little Money and Hardly Any Time...... it has a very long title.

There are times when we all need to tighten our belts (no pun intended), but we still want a sweet treat.  I made this trifle on Sunday and thought that for a budget trifle, it wasn't too bad.  Not up to the standard of our usual Christmas trifle, but acceptable.  The only comment that I received was 
Where's the custard?

Kitchen Space

I dream of a large farmhouse kitchen with a long table (a bit like The Darling Buds of May), but like most people, I have to make do with a much smaller space than I would like.  The Aga also features in my vision, but I may have to wait a while longer to make that dream a reality....

One space that I closely guard is my bookcase, which is filled with recipe books collected through the years, plus my collection of craft books on the bottom shelf.

This was looking rather dusty and I must confess to not removing the books and doing a proper clean since they were put there when we moved to this house (more than) two years ago.  It was high time for a thorough dusting!

This also gave me a chance to remove superfluous items secreted there by my husband, who seems to think that I won't notice that he has added a pile of washers(!) , assorted nuts and bolts and anything else that he wants to keep handy 'in case he needs it'.

My Union Jack teapot has been mentioned in a previous post.  It was a housewarming gift from a dear friend some years ago - I have no idea which home this was for, as we have moved too many times!

I can finally get a book off the shelf without blowing away a cloud of dust (it wasn't quite that bad, but it certainly felt like it) and have the pleasure of browsing through some of my favourite books to find a new recipe or two to try.

Monday 25 August 2014

In the Kitchen

I know that it has been a couple of weeks since I last posted, but life has been busy.  Summer seems almost over, even though it is still August.  The nights are cooler and so are the mornings and the weather has been quite unsettled.    

I took the opportunity this weekend when the weather looked quite unpromising, to spend time in the kitchen and do some baking.  I used two recipes from books that I have mentioned in previous posts.

Sausage and Squished Tomato Rolls are from A Perfect Day For A Picnic.  The tomatoes were roasted with olive oil and then pureed in the blender.  The addition of tomato certainly makes for a tasty and moist sausage roll.  This also gave me another use for our glut of ripe tomatoes.

Tomato, Pesto and Goat's Cheese Tarts are from The Little Book of Lunch.  These have fast become a favourite when we pack a picnic.  They are just bursting with flavour!

No picnic this past weekend, but maybe we will be able to get out for one next.  Labour Day Weekend is looming and this is considered the official end of summer.  In the meantime, I think that I will browse through those picnic recipes and see if I can find something different to try.  The only problem being that now it is the end of summer, the weather has gone hot again, so it is hard to know whether I should be planning for a warming picnic or something cooler....

Friday 8 August 2014

Alterations - part two

The challenge: to alter a shirt to fit by lifting the shoulders.  How to go about it?  Well, after an obliging assistant pinned markers for the correct shoulder position, the only solution seemed to be to remove the sleeves.

That step accomplished, I reaslised that the only way to make the sleeves fit in their new position would be to take in the side seams, which was not a problem, as the shirt was too big for me.

Once this was completed, I could reinsert the sleeves using flat fell seams - at least, I think that's what they are called, if I remember my dressmaking classes from school, but it was a long time ago!

My apologies for the quality of some of the photographs, but the light was not the best.  Anyway, I think that the finished article came out rather well and now I have a wearable shirt in one of my favourite colours.

Thursday 7 August 2014


There is something immensely satisfying about stocking the pantry with summer's goodness.  I recently made strawberry and rhubarb jam from this recipe, as well as pickling fresh beetroot bought from a farm shop when we were out one day.

Growing up in the UK, I was unaccustomed to rhubarb being in season at the same time as strawberries, but they do come into season at the same time in this part of the world.

The jam is delicious and a vast improvement on commercially produced ones, which are always over-sweetened.  I much prefer this recipe and my only wish is that I'd had more produce with which to make  my jam.  I went back to the farm shop a couple of days ago, but local strawberries are finished for this year

After my jam making, I tidied the pantry, as it was looking quite disorganized and there were a few out-of-date products cluttering up the shelves.

I'm still dreaming of the day that I have a proper walk-in pantry, well-stocked with home produced goodies.  For the time being, that remains a dream, but at least I created a space where I could put my jars in pride of place.

Tuesday 5 August 2014

Alterations - part one

The challenge was to alter a dress which I bought about two years ago and was too big.  It is a job which I procrastinated about because I was unsure quite how to go about this alteration.

I had the alteration pinned on the outside, but the dress is lined, so I had to get inside the lining before I could make any changes to the fit.

I unpicked a small area of the lining and worked inside it.

This is the alteration after I had machined it.

Once the alteration was completed, I then pinned and stitched the lining back in place by hand.

I am delighted with the results and now have a dress which is wearable.

Although the alteration was challenging, it was nowhere near as difficult as I had anticipated and I would certainly feel braver about attempting such an alteration in future.

Sunday 3 August 2014

Cape Breton Adventure

Last week, we drove up to Cape Breton and had a little trip along the western shore.  As the photographs show, there are some beautiful sandy beaches.

It was a hot and humid day, but there was a lovely breeze coming off the water.

We drove along a route which was new to us and the shore was visible across the fields.

In places, there are farms close to the shore.

This is the view (below) from the top of the road above Port Hood.   A popular spot for photo opportunities, as although it was a dead-end, there were a few tourists driving up to admire the view.

We headed to the beach after our drive and enjoyed a walk along the sands.  Away from the area closest to the parking area, the beach was almost deserted.

It was lovely to feel the wind in our faces and the sand between our toes.

We had a cup of tea made with our portable stove and enjoyed a delicious snack before heading home.  The end of a perfect day.