Tuesday, 24 February 2015

The Forty Rules of Love

I've just returned this to the Library.  I borrowed it on the evening when Elif Shafak came to Kenilworth Library.  I started it just over a week ago.  Its well worth reading...

Where has all the Tate & Lyle Granulated Sugar gone?

I knew it would not be long before I had to make some more lime marmalade.  I had finished my last pot a few weeks ago.  There were some lovely bright green firm limes unwaxed in Waitrose, so I popped a whole pile into my basket.  The next problem was the sugar, of course for me, the best and only sugar for preserves is cane sugar, and until recently I could get hold of Tate & Lyle even if I had to go to Tesco.  However, the local store and the large one by the University no longer carry this brand as their standard white.  It seems to be the trend in supermarkets recently to change their standard white granulated sugar to be the beet sugar grown in the UK.  However it just does not pass muster for jams or jellies.  Of course you can buy the premium jam sugars which cost a lot more than standard granulated.

I noticed Whitworths white sugar creeping into local shops, but no explicit source of the sugar on the packet.  A few phone calls resulted in some interesting information.  Whitworths sugar is no longer owned by Whitworths, but is now owned by The Real Good Food Company.  So I called them to ask about their sugar.  I was told that it comes from various sources, could be beet could be cane, maybe a mixture...I feel this was an answer just to fob off a casual enquiry.  

When I explained why I was asking and why it mattered both to jam makers and bee keepers, they seemed not to realise the problem.  I suggested that at least they mark the bags with the type of sugar.

After that little session, I was really pleased to have my new pencils delivered by the postman.  When I opened them, and they were beautifully packed, there was a little note with the name of the packer.  I just felt I had to phone Newcastle Arts Centre up and thank them for the quick delivery and excellent packaging.  Jon said I had made his day!

Of course, I am just starting with the drawing/painting/mark making hobby.  My sister Lizzie has been really good at art for a long time, and she recently gave me a little encouragement after I heard that my local lessons have been temporarily put on hold.  So today, I got out my new pencils and sketched the pink carnations Izzi and Veronica had brought last week.  I shall have to work on this one....

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Spring Time Visit

It felt like Spring.  It was warm, a little too warm in the conservatory,

so Izzi had her lunch on the patio, then looked for pretty stones in the garden.  'Mum's' phone was taken down the garden, and pictures of the spring flowers taken.  We found a hidden clump of snowdrops, and Izzi even noticed that we had different types growing in the garden.

On Friday I picked a little bunch to take down for Annie who was cutting my hair.  The scent was again much commented on in the salon.  As there was no vase there, I improvised, raided the bin, found one of those sweety packets, turned it inside out so that the silver part was on the outside, filled it with water, stood the flowers in, and gathered the top with the flimsy white opaque bag I had used, and it looked absolutely stylish...

In between we managed sessions at the swimming pool, at the park, and at Charlecote House.  On the way we visited Charlecote Mill, where Izzi was really pleased to watch the miller.  We climbed onto to the first floor where Karl fed the wheat into the stones.  Of course a nice bag of stone ground bread flour for bought for Izzi and I look forward to receiving a picture of any bread made.....

Already adept at things pc, a few minutes were caught in between activities to 'construct' a pizza in a game....

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Khara Buns

Again a recipe from the Book of Buns, and five stars for this one.  This book is just filled with superb recipes.  The mixture of added spices: garlic, cumin seeds, fresh and dried coriander, and chilli really appealed to me.  This gives only 8 buns, so it would be worth doubling up on the ingredients for a party or large picnic.  I used 200g stoneground wholemeal flour from Charlecote Mill

Not something we had in Mauritius, but the spices reminded me of gateau piment.  As I love coriander I used a large bunch of fresh coriander.  This 'large' bunch is an equivalent idea to saying '25cs cotomili'.  A large bunch is a 'packet' from Sainsbury's lol.  Anyway coriander to taste, and I love coriander.

The smell in the kitchen , and the taste of a warm bun with a beer to start off Friday evening was just the ticket.  I even made a lovely vegetable curry with coconut milk, fresh ginger, other spices, cauliflower, carrot, cashew nuts, chickpeas and of course fresh coriander.  And talk about serendipity, when we went for a little walk today, we popped into Robert Dyas, and there on a shelf was a copy of the Hairy Bikers Great Curries for just under £6.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Let the pen make its mark

This week's art class:  we used some pens, and a little paint...I limited myself to just one fabulous colour:  Quinacridone Gold.  The pens we used were waterproof when dry:  I went in fast and free with the allium seed head, having first gone very slowly on the seeds heads of Bridal Wreath.  Then it was a dried dock flower

At first I was hesitant, then it all came together.

Lastly I  had a quick go with Caran D'Ache Neocolour which can be worked dry and wet...wow what fun!

I had been thinking of one of my friends who is poorly at the moment, waiting for an operation, and somehow a very quick 'Daisy' came out.