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Saturday, 23 October 2021

Three score years and ten

Biblically, as of today, I am an old lady. At the moment my legs would agree with that opinion but my head still wonders how it happened.  

I decided a while ago that I wouldn't make a fuss about the Big Seven Oh as I'm still uncomfortable about going to pubs and restaurants so inviting friends and family out for lunch didn't seem like a good idea.  However, other people decided that such a day couldn't go unmarked.  As a result I had fudge brownies for breakfast.

And chocolate biscuits mid morning.

And steak, wedges and salad at lunchtime.

And THREE different birthday cakes,

But most of the seventy chocolates are still in the box.

My Mother told me that at 7pm seventy years ago she was cooking fish and chips for Father's evening meal and by 7.30pm she was nursing me.  I can't manage that sort of speed these days.  And certainly not this evening.  

Friday, 22 October 2021

Nine weeks to go (plus one day)

 I decided to check the last Christmas posting dates for the Royal Mail.  First class cards should be in the post by December 22nd and second class by 18th December.  I'm usually well ahead of that but I still like to know!


I've started to think about Christmas food.  I've already made some jams and chutneys and may make some more if my knee replacement is happy with the thought.  The next thing is Christmas puddings.  Considering that this is a household of one I seem to make quite a lot: my current list is for seven one-pound puds and eight half-pound puds!  This week I made my first batch using this recipe.  This quantity will do two one-pound puds with a bit over.  

Very Berry Christmas Pudding

100g (3½oz) sultanas

50g (2oz) each dried sour cherries, dried strawberries, dried cranberries and dried blueberries

50g (2oz) each ready-to-eat dried prunes, apricots and figs, roughly chopped

150ml liqueur, preferable fruity

Zest and juice of 1 lemon  

Butter for greasing

75g (3oz) shredded suet

50g (2oz) self-raising flour

125g (4oz) fresh breadcrumbs

½tsp each mixed spice and ground ginger

1tsp ground cinnamon

Pinch each of salt and freshly

grated nutmeg

75g (3oz) soft dark brown sugar

2tbsp black treacle

1 Cox's apple, grated

2 medium eggs, beaten

50g (2oz) pecans, chopped (optional)


Method

1 Put the dried fruit, liqueur, lemon zest and juice into a non-metallic mixing bowl. Cover and leave to soak overnight. Lightly butter a 1 litre (1¾ pint) pudding basin and put in a cool place. I use reusable plastic bowls with lids.

2 The next day, put the soaked fruit into a large mixing bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Mix together until well combined. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pudding basin, pushing it down firmly, and level the surface.

3 To cook, put the pudding in a slow cooker with water halfway up the basin.  Cook for an hour on high then reduce to low for about ten hours.   Store in a cool, dark place for up to three months. 

4 On Christmas Day put it in a slow cooker for about four hours.  You could microwave but using a slow cooker means a better flavour and less work just before serving and you could even cook it in the garage or other out-of-the-way spot meaning there’s one less thing in the kitchen.  I cook mine in my utility room.


And I've been making presents.  Actually I've been making a few throughout the year but this week I made lavender bags.  I used a cheap pack of five inch squares which were so badly cut that I wouldn't consider them for a larger project but they were fine for this.  

Saturday, 16 October 2021

Ten weeks to go

 You know what I'm talking about!  Sorry about that.

Every year I say I will be more organised at Christmas.  I will write things down.  I will plan better.  But somehow it doesn't happen and some time around 16th December I have a panic.  How those of you who have families manage, I have no idea!  Apart from toddling off to church Christmas morning I will spend the day alone.  My hope is that each week in the run-up to the great day I can write down a few of the pre-Christmas things I have done so that I have the start of a Christmas planner.  Well, that's the theory

I've volunteered to take an 8am service Christmas Day so that one of our local clergy can be at home with her children while they open their presents and the children won't have to wait until after lunch for that important time.  I think a lot of clergy children get a pretty raw deal at Christmas as their parents work so hard that they just don't see enough of them and I feel that this is a way I can help.  That vicar will still take her midnight service (when the children are in bed) and Christmas morning family service (when the children will go with her) but they will be her priority early morning.  

I've got my Christmas cards made and the labels printed.  Many years ago I created a database of Christmas cards to send so sorting the labels is a doddle.  I make all my cards the same and make sure it is a simple design.  Now the only thing is to write a message in each card.  Groan.  

Each time I have an on-line delivery from Sainsbury I include a few stamps on my order.  This makes sure that my order is always over £40 so I don't have to pay a supplement for a too-small basket and I don't have to buy a huge quantity of stamps at once.

What will I have done by next Saturday?   Watch this space!


Monday, 11 October 2021

Thanksgiving

 Happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian readers!  



And quite apart from the fact that I hope you have a lovely day, you have given me the nudge to do a gratitude post.

I'm grateful for problem free (so far) surgery and recovery.  I was worried before this op as so many people seem to struggle with recovery after knee replacement surgery but I am already managing some walking without sticks.  I'm having the clips removed today so it's probably good that I'm writing this before any discomfort that may cause.

And I'm grateful for several beautiful days lately.  My sitting room faces east so I've watched some lovely sun-rises.  The afternoons have been sunny and as my conservatory faces west I have been able to take advantage of natural heating just by opening the door from the house to the conservatory.

And I'm grateful for the benefits of modern technology, especially food preservation.  I know that might sound a weird thing for a gratitude list but I was able to freeze home cooked food a few weeks ago so I am able to have home cooked food now, even though I don't want to stand at the stove and stir.  I have food kept fresh in the fridge all the time nd I have a plentiful supply of tine when I need them.  Its easy to forget what a boon food preservation is but at times like these I couldn't manage alone without it.

And (I think!) I am grateful for Jack.  Yes, I AM grateful for (and to) Jack.  He's come today to sort things out in the garden for me  and he will take me to the Health Centre.  He's quite impressed with how well I am doing abd even more impressed that he will get home made leek and potato soup for lunch.  It's good to be able to impress him.