Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Tomato soup

Last weekend Brian came home with a bag of ripe tomatoes, a large bag of ripe tomatoes.  Can you make soup with them? he asked.  Well, I told him, I can, but it's a very fiddly job.  At which he got all huffy, and said, don't bother then.  So, to prove how fiddly I set to on Monday morning. First I had to blanch the tomatoes and remove the skins.  Then cut the tomatoes in half and remove the pips.  I did a couple, but was just too fiddly so left them in, but did cut the fruit into halves.

An onion was chopped and gently fried in a large pan, the tomatoes added, and all cooked together until soft. Stock was added and all cooked until soft.  Cooled slightly and then put into my new food processor and processed.  To remove the seeds I put the soup through a fine sieve (which took an age to do) and put the resulting liquid back into the pan and added  tomato purée and sugar.  I heated it all through again to make sure the sugar and tomato purée were incorporated. 

Two hours later I had finished the washing up and we had soup for six.  

Brian had to agree, it is a fiddly and time consuming task making tomato soup, but we both agreed it was very very good.

But, because of the time taken, not forgetting the fuel consumption, Brian decided we need a soup maker and set off for town to buy one - he had a store voucher, and it was on offer in a pre-Christmas sale, so it was a bargain.

We have yet to use it, since we only finished the soup today.  Hopefully I will make some tomorrow and I will let you know how I get on.  

Monday, 25 November 2013

Last Year's Christmas present

Last Christmas our eldest son and his partner gave us a gift voucher for tickets to a play at our local Yvonne Arnaud Theatre - our choice of whatever we wanted.   As we did in a previous year, we dillied and dallied, or were too busy to book anything up.   But we decided we really must use up the voucher so a month ago we booked to see September in the Rain.  Mind you driving there in really heavy rain we wondered if the name would be changed to November in the Rain.

September in the Rain is a comedy which relates the story of a Yorkshire couples marriage spanning 40 years through their annual holiday each year in Blackpool each September where it invariably rained.Just two characters in the play which took place on the front at Blackpool. It was both poignant and funny, and the two actors (Claire Sweeney and John Thompson) brought back memories of holidays at the seaside in years gone by.   Very cleverly acted. 

The above photographs by Robert Day and from the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre website

The Blue jug is just about being filled with flowers from the garden - for the last two weeks, Fuchsia Genii flowering in a sheltered spot by one of the greenhouses and a yellow Buddleia.  We have night frosts forecast, so I'm not sure there will be many more flowers.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Birthday baking

We have a lot of birthdays in the family this month. Three in Brian's brothers family and three in ours, plus my friend has a birthday today.

Granddaughter Emily starts the birthday season on the 11th, her father and our oldest son, Matthew,has a birthday on the 19th and his oldest daughter Jessica is on the 24th

To celebrate the birthdays I made a cake because I knew they would be calling  this afternoon. A carrot cake was requested by Brian.  

Going back three months to the end of August and my birthday, I was delighted to receive a new Kenwood food processor to replace the very old Braun I had owned for about twenty five years.  There was no cookery book with the processor, so I searched Amazon for a basic book.  I came across one by the well known Mary Berry, which was highly recommended. It's out of print now, and a hardback copy will set you back £190!    But there was a used paperback edition for sale at a very reasonable £3 odd, and I ordered it straight way.  It arrived within a day or so, and I have to say, it is just what I wanted. Basic simple recipes.

The carrot cake recipe came from this book.  It was a doddle to prepare in the processor, as was the topping. 

The cake was  huge success with everyone, and will certainly be one I will make again.  Sorry no picture of the cake before it was cut, but you can see there is not much left.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Crochet update

This autumn has been quite mild so far, although fairly damp and very windy.   The sort of weather that makes us want to close the curtains, put on the fire, and have supper on our laps in front of the TV.  Then I take up my hook and start to crochet.  I know ... I've been neglecting the crochet blanket all summer, but now I am back to hooking.  I think the main problem is the muted colours, also the wool is an Aran type and quite hard to work.  But I am persevering and hope to finish it in time for Christmas.  I'm till not sure if it will be a gift or not.   Anyway, here is an up to date photograph  of progress.


Did I mention how cross I am that the quantity of yarn specified in the Pattern book  (Patons) is totally wrong?  There are five colours and pattern states need 1x 100gram ball of each colour.   Who checks these patterns?  Fortunately it does not matter that the dye is very slightly different - no one will notice, but I know! I've bought an extra 100 grams of four of the colours and 2 x 100 grams of the granny square borders.  I have decided that I will go as far as I can and then finish.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Never Forget with Poppy trees

Brian and I often pop over to Aldershot, a local Military town.  The last time we were there we were pleasantly surprised to see these poppy trees. 

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Blue jug update

I was not expecting an flowers in the garden when I returned from my trip to Australia.  I was surprised, therefore, to see there were still some of the Bishop of Llandaff and David Howard dahlias.  I picked them all, and here is the jug on 28th October

Last week I found these few dahlias flowering by my greenhouse.  

I will have to search hard for more flowers in the garden.  We are due to have a frost tonight which I am sure will cut most of the plants back.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Saying goodbye

Yesterday was a sad day for us. Our very dear friend and ex neighbour, Roy, was laid to rest.  He was 91. On my return from holiday in Australia, my husband broke the sad news to me that Roy had had an accident at home, and after a brief illness, had passed away.  His wife Jean, had passed away about two years ago and Roy had lived on his own for that time, mostly fending for himself, with lots of help from his family, and carers a couple of days a week.   Jean and Roy were the best neighbours one could ever wish for. Both were happy to help out in an emergency.  Nothing was ever too much trouble, despite the fact they had five children of their own.  Roy grew vegetables in the back garden, they hardly ever bought them. Also wonderful dahlias in a corner of the garden.  Jean cooked pies and cakes and made bread by hand, but eventually in the bread machine the family bought her. They were devoted to one another and were very content with their lives.  My two boys grew up loving their auntie Jean and uncle Roy.  It was a sad day when Jean and Roy decided to move to a small bungalow when their children had left home.  Fortunately not far as they moved to a bungalow in the village.  We were still able to visit often, but I missed popping round 'next door' for a coffee (it was always coffee).   Now they are both gone but I have some lovely memories of  them.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Memory Butterflies

My sister is,and has been for many years, a devoted member of  Sands South Australia, and also Sands Australia.  When I was visiting recently,  Sands South Australia organised a Walkathon for parents to walk in remembrance of their child.   It was held in a park in Adelaide and there were, perhaps about a hundred people there.   Pauline had organised a raffle with some lovely prizes to help raise funds for the Group.  There was Face Painting and balloon animals and, of course, the walk.  Not a very long walk because, of course, many of the parents had brought small children along, it was probably about half an hour around the parklands.  There was also that great Australian tradition – the sausage sizzle to warm the walkers and helpers – it was a very cold day.    

Pauline had also organised the purchase of butterflies for parents to release in memory of their child, and about forty butterflies were released.  I think they were the Wanderer butterfly, and my sister had obtained them from Queensland.   She collected them from the airport the previous evening and kept them in a coolbox (Esky) over night.   They were all individually packed lightly into envelopes which were closed with a ribbon and easily opened.  Very neat.   It was a very moving moment when the butterflies were released by the parents.

Well done Pauline for all your efforts for that Society.  A worthy cause and I am very proud of all that she has done for them.