Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Christmas Day

Christmas day was spent at Mums, out in the wilds of Suffolk!
This Photo was taken by my sisters husband! (they haven't been married long!) and shows my Mum and Dad, my sisters and the other ones partner, Lukey, my husband and Alice and Jared, we had just finished the main course, Turkey of course, and a cheese and potato pie for those of us who don't eat meat, with roast potatoes, parsnips, brussel sprouts, leeks in cheese sauce, broccoli, cauliflower, Swede, little sausages, stuffing, bread sauce, cranberry sauce, red current jelly and gravy.

This was followed by Christmas pudding, my favourite trifle and then cheese. I was a bit full up after all that!

I had made some sweet dessert wine and we had a blind tasting against a shop bought one, mine was the favourite although Mum preferred the sweeter shop one.

I made up hampers to give to everyone. In them was a bottle of homemade wine, either Elderflower and Apple or Parsnip, a half bottle of sweet raisin dessert wine, two bottles of home brew lager, a hand knitted dishcloth, a bar of cinnamon soap, which is pictured above, a bag of fudge and a calender. I had these printed at Truprint and had picked out photos to suit each member of the family.

It was lovely to have Alice home for a few days, drove her back to Heathrow airport this morning, left at 4 a.m. and she was back at work in Hamburg by lunch time!

Saturday, 12 December 2009

My trip to Hamburg continued....

On the Saturday morning we enjoyed a German breakfast I had rolls with cheese and jam, yogurt and tea.
We went into the main shopping area of the town and visited 3 markets and also went in some fantastic shops. One sold "Christmas things" I bought a table cloth, candles and candle holder thing, strands of stuff to hang up. Alice took me to the craft shop that she had found and I bought some scrapbook stuff and some felting wool, which I plan to use to knit handbags with. But that is project number 2 and I have to finish my sisters scrapbook before I start anything else.
We decided to try all the different types of food on offer. Alice and Aniela started with these fried potatoes. I had a large chocolate thing that was a bit like a walnut whip and then we had "curry wurst" and chips, which is basically a large sausage in curry sauce. I know I don't usually eat meat, but it looked and smelt so nice.

Then we watched the parade. There were floats and people dressed up and dancing and lots of music - lovely. In the picture above are two round brown characters, I thought that they were Christmas puddings, but Aniela said that they couldn't be as they don't have Christmas pudding in Germany!!

This picture shows a stall with a wooden nativity scene with the sails on top. These are in all the shop except much, much smaller. I saw them from 3" high to about 3 ft high. You put candles in the bottom to make the sails go round. I don't know what they are called.
In the evening we went to the St Pauli market where we had German pizza, these have a much thinner base than we have and were very nice. There was a band playing - Is this the way to Amarillo in German - very strange. We then went to the "Dom" or funfair, there was a massive big wheel giving a view of all of Hamburg. We had more Gluwien, donuts and Alice and Aniela went on a scary ride -I held the handbags.
More tomorrow.....

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Weekend in Hamburg

I have just spent a wonderful weekend in Hamburg, Germany,
I left home at 4 am on Friday morning and drove to Stansted Airport, where I met my sister and we set off to catch a Ryanair flight. Oh dear the staff were very nasty to us, one lady shouted at us to put our handbags into our suitcases as we could only have one piece of handlugage. But the girl in front of me had multiple bumbags and was allowed to take them on and we spotted other people with a handbag- next time I will tie my handbag around my waist.

We flew into Lubeck airport which is a tiny airport with a shed, you go in one door have your passport checked and walk out the other side! We then got on the bus for the one hour drive into Hamburg. This took us to the main bus and train station.
We headed off to find our hotel and stopped for breakfast or Fruhstuck on the way at this cafe- rolls, jam and coffee.

We headed straight back into town to the "Rathaus" or Town Hall, where there was a Christmas market and were found drinking Gluwien at 11 am!!

We wandered along the amazing stalls looking at all the different things for sale. There were decorations, chocolates, biscuits, cakes, pottery and more.
It was then time to meet Alice for lunch, she took us to her local cafe and I also met her work friends.

In the evening we went to another market and then had dinner in an Italian restaurant ( I know we were in Germany) but it looked nice and we were hungry.
Then back to the Rathaus for another hot drink, I think that we had applepunch this time. A walk along the lake to look at the Christmas tree in the middle and then back on the U-bahn to The Holiday Inn and sleep at last, it had been a very long day.

More tomorrow..........

Monday, 30 November 2009


Last night I spotted this wonderful idea on Petit Filoux's blog (http://petitfiloux.blogspot.com/2009/11/its-chocolate-time.html)
This made an advent calender out of little paper boxes that you can fill with your own chocolates.

Thank you Petit Filoux for emailing me the print outs. I have spent all evening cutting and gluing and even had to get an extra pair of hands to help, thanks Lukey. I wanted it done for tomorrow, being the first day of Advent.

This shows the boxes in close up. I printed them onto brown wrapping paper to look a little rustic!!

This is my advent candle. It has a list of numbers going from one down to 24, each day you burn off the candle down to the next number. I got this one in Wilkinsons, but have seen them in all sorts of shops that sell Christmas decorations. Some years they have been easier to find than others and this year I have spotted lots. I first got one when the children were little, and it has become a family tradition they are now nearly grown up, but Jared is still at home.
We always light the candle while we eat dinner, sometimes we forget if we have been out and have to let it burn for 2 or 3 numbers, but it is a good visual countdown. I am looking forward to lighting it tomorrow evening.

Sunday, 29 November 2009


Christmas is coming! In Manningtree the other afternoon just as it was getting dark I noticed the window of The Wholefood Store, it looked so pretty I just had to take a photo.
Only 6 days until I go to Hamburg to see Alice!!

I made some mince pies using the mincemeat that I made last week. They were very tasty, got full approval from all those that tried them. I try to shop locally, but was not able to get a star cutter in Manningtree either this year or last. I had asked in Howels, the hardware and kitchen ware shop, but they did not get one in, which is a shame. In the end I found one in Lakeland in Ipswich
I used my special sweet pastry recipe which is:

3 1/2 oz butter, 5 oz plain flour, 2 oz ground almonds, 2 oz castor sugar, almond essence, 1 egg.

rub the butter into the flour and then add everything else, mix together and chill in fridge.

This makes nice crispy pastry.

Monday, 23 November 2009

mincemeat and wine

Last week I bottled some wine. This was the Elderberry that I had made from a tin, it is very quick, takes just 4 weeks and then a couple of weeks after that it is ready to drink.

This one is the peapod wine that I made in the summer from the peas that we grew. It is not ready to drink yet, I have put it away in the shed for a few months

I also started off some more larger. My bucket is not big enough to use a whole tin, so I make half at a time and store the other half in the fridge. First you add the contents of the tin to some sugar and boiling water and then top up to 20 pints with cold water.

Then add the yeast.

Cover with cling film and put in a warm place. Mine goes in the airing cupboard for about 6 days and then it is ready to bottle. This I will do tomorrow and it will be ready to drink at Christmas.

I also made some mincemeat ready for the mince pies. I always make it as Lukey does not like peel or nuts, I adjust the recipe to take them out and add other things.

I used the recipe from last years "Good Food" magazine, vegetarian special, for Blitz and Blend mincemeat. You have to chop everything up in the food processor, which means you don't have great big raisins in the mix. This is especially good for making mini pies.
I used an apple, stem Ginger, glace cherries, dried pineapple, sultanas, raisins and currents, vegetarian shredded suet, light muscodavo sugar, ground ginger, mixed spice, nutmeg, orange juice and zest, and dark rum.
This is all blended together and then put in jars and left to mature for a few weeks. Mmmmmm...

Only 11 days until I go to Hamburg to see Alice and visit the Christmas markets.....



Monday, 16 November 2009


Who could eat this beautiful cow? Someone will, he is being fattened up - poor thing. Moooo

Had a lovely weekend, Alice was home from Hamburg after 12 weeks away. Went out for dinner on Saturday night with her and John, her boyfriend and Jared and his girlfriend Ashleigh. Which was fun.

And on Sunday morning we went to John's cow shed to get some cow poo for the allotment. The cows are beautiful and have become very friendly and nosey. They were very interested in what we were doing and kept putting their noses in the bags and getting in the way. They will also eat hay from your hand and have very rough tongues. When you walk away from them they moo "where are you going?" mooo

I was also allowed to feed them by pouring their pellet food into the trough!!!

If this doesn't get things growing on the plot I don't know what will?

Thursday, 29 October 2009


I have not posted for over a week, as I have not been well. I am not sure what I had, but I certainly did not feel too good. Not flu or a cold, but just not feeling well. Tired all the time, no energy, could not concentrate on anything, ached all over and had a dreadful cough. I stayed in bed for 5 days. But I am on the mend, the energy is coming back and I have started to make things again!!

Yesterday I made soap - my first ever batch and I am so pleased with it. It contains poppy seeds, coffee and cinnamon leaf oil. Took nearly all day to make. It is just beginning to set.

I have cut it into squares and put it on the shelf to cure. It should be ready in about 4 weeks.
Today I went to pick some sloes from the hedgerows, I got about 5 lb.
I put some into jars with gin to make sloe gin and the rest will make wine, which I hope to start tomorrow.

Sunday, 18 October 2009


We have an allotment!!! So excited.

BUT it is just a field and we have so much work to do>

The field has been used for grazing horses for sometime, it is also very dry, therefore the ground is rock hard.

After spending some time planning out how we wanted it to be on paper. We marked out some beds and took off the top layer of grass.

Then we poured loads of water on, went home and had lunch and went back to try to dig.

The water had soaked into the top layer, so Lukey dug it out and then we put more water in and left it.

We made friends with the geese in the adjoining field.
The first area that we are preparing will be for fruit. I hope to grow some raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and rhubarb, these are all things that I use to make either wine or jam or just to eat! The rest of the plot will be for vegetable- as many as we can fit in.
There are 6 new plots on this field. One already has a shed and some beds dug, another has a compost bin and they have started to dig. Another has a very detailed plan on paper and marked out some areas with string, but done anything else yet. I think that it is going to be very interesting watching it all take shape!!

Sunday, 4 October 2009

tomato soup

I had lots of tomatos turning red on the plants in the garden so decided to make some more soup.

I took some vegetables; onions, carrots and celery.

Chopped them up and then put in a pan with a little oil, over a low heat for about 1/2 hour, stirring every now and then.

While they were cooking I went outside and picked the tomatos.

There were loads - a whole colander full. I kept the cherry ones to put in the lunch boxes in the week. Some I saved for lunch - we had greek salad again with garlic and herb foccocia. This has been our Sunday lunch for weeks now, but we love it

I wash the tomatos and cover them with boiling water for a couple of minutes and then skin them.

And chop them up and add to the vegetables. I add some vegetable stock, some herbs and pepper. This is then simmered for about 1/2 an hour.

When it is cooked I blend it with the stick blender until smooth. Sometimes I add a bit of yoghurt to this. Oh and check the flavour.

I then put some in a bowl for lunch the next day. The rest I freeze in these little one portion pots. I made about 14 portions, which is good.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

September Sunday

After a very hectic couple of weeks, I had a day off on Sunday and did lots of cooking, but I was so busy taking pictures and cooking that I didn't have time to write the blog, so here goes:

There was a new farmers market at the village hall in the morning so we walked up to have a look. There were only a few stalls, but hopefully there will be more next time. There wasn't really much I wanted as there were two cake stalls and one selling soda bread, one with vegetables and that was about it. So I just bought some eggs and some honey from Clacton-on-sea.

I had wanted to try out a new flapjack recipie that I had found in the BBC Good Food magazine, but found that I didn't have any bananas, so I biked, yes biked to Manningtree to get some and biked most the way home - had to walk up the steep bit of hill.

The flapjacks were lovely very soft and tasty, here is the recipie:

150 g butter, 150 ml maple syrup, 125 g dried cranberries, 2 large mashed bananas, 375 g porridge oats.
Melt the butter with the syrup and then stir in everything else, put in baking tray and cook for about 10 mins or until golden (190 c or 170 c fan oven gas 5).

Oh I forgot I added a handfull of dessicated coconut!

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Sat nav bags

Oh dear I haven't written anyting for two weeks, have been a little busy, doing lots of knitting and scrapbooking. I am working on a wedding album for my sister, so can't post any pictures of the pages yet, just in case she sees them before I have finished.

We have a sat nav and Lukey has one for work but they didn't come with cases. When we first got them they had little plastic bags which have now worn out. We didn't want to scratch the screens when they are put in a bag or pocket so needed a case or cover for them. I had looked on the official site and seen the price of them, so decided to knit them! I used the wool left over from my socks for my one and sewed on some sequins and beads that are in my bead box. The other one was made with some cotton left from making a dishcloth, this one had a draw string and embroidered name on the front. I didn't have a pattern for these, just modified a sock pattern and knitted them on 4 double pointed needles - just like a sock! Easy!

Saturday, 29 August 2009


This is my usual Saturday morning. I go to Manningtree town. This morning I visited The Wholefood store to get my bottles of Ecover washing up liquid and fabric conditioner topped up. Also bought some Kingfisher toothpaste, humus and olives.
On to the library to take some books back.
And then to the market. Fruit and Veg from Darren, today I bought some potatoes, nectarines, sweetcorn, carrots, onions and a cucumber. Not much but we are still eating from the garden.

Lastly my favourite stall. I call it the "Food Stall" They sell all sorts of packets and jars of food, like cake, biscuits, crisps, nuts, sweets and tins and jars. Some items are nearly up to their sell by date, some are well known brands and others I have never heard of. Some is very good quality and some not so. I always have a look to see what bargains there. This week they had Tesco finest teabags - mint, lemon and ginger and chamomile for just 50p for 25 bags, and there is a year until they reach sell by date. The boxes are a bit squashed, but as I am not giving them away I don't mind.

While out this morning I met up with 3 friends had a chat with them all, catching up on what they have been doing.
On the way back picked up a bag of hay for the guinea pigs and home for a well deserved cup of tea and put it all away.