Sunday, 28 February 2016

Chutneys...a repeat of the Mango Chutney very nearly

With just about perfect mangoes being on sale in Sainsbury's it is not a surprise that my latest batch of chutney was to be mango chutney.

The last of my batch of Mango Chutney made last summer has been eaten up, and since chutneys need to mature it is time to get chopping again.  I followed the same recipe as posted there, except that I did not use the sweet red pepper, but added more of my home grown and dried chilies.

Mango Chutney is so easy to make as the mangoes are easy to chop up.  In no time at all small pieces just the right size are ready to go into the pot with all the spices and other ingredients.

One thing I am getting better at is preparing the labels, and getting the pots off the kitchen counter into the preserves cupboard.

Just to say that I must be in the mood for making chutneys as I also made a few jars of courgette chutney being enticed by lovely courgettes at our Kenilworth greengrocer Joe Richards.  Except for some dark spicy chutneys, and one of my favourites:  Pear and Walnut Chutney, I am now well stocked for the coming year.  I seem to be repeating myself here...maybe it is time I got out some of my chutney and preserve books to find something new to try...any suggestions?

Friday, 26 February 2016

Noritake Spring Time

Sometimes it comes to one, the house is bursting, we have things we are not using, and it is time to part with things.  This is my mother's lovely set...and I am looking to sell it.  Please let me know if any of my regular 'readers' or someone recommended by them are interested in any of the items. The glaze is very hard, and in good condition...this has not been washed in a dishwasher.

There are large plates, small plates, tea service, serving plates, covered dishes is just a few of the items.  There are 8 each of dinner plates, teaplates, sideplates, cereal bowls, fruit bowls, saucers, just 6 tea cups, tea pot, sugar basin, sugar bowl with lid, large and medium oval serving plates, lidden vegetable bowl, open serving dish.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Weekend in Derby

We had seen Michael Portillo alight in Derby and thought it a lovely place, so when we were looking for a place to visit not too far away from home, but with things to interest us at this time of the year, we booked ourselves into a hotel just close by the Cathedral.  The Cathedral Quarter Hotel was in this fine building:

Our first visit to the splendid high ceiling wood paneled dining room which is across the first floor was to have afternoon tea.

The staff were really helpful, and allowed us to settle into our room early, then we set off on foot to explore...close by were Museums and Art Gallery, pretty roads with Georgian Buildings, interesting Victorian facades, independent shops, the usual very good shopping zone with probably the best Marks and Debenhams we have been in for some time.  The City is quite compact and we were so pleased that we had booked the car into a long stay car park for the duration of our stay.

Just a few yards up the road was the lovely Cathedral Church of All Saints.  The clock has a wonderful chime and it was gentle and peaceful and I counted the various quarter hours off during my usual wakeful hours during the night.  The interior was a complete surprise..light and airy, with the most beautiful iron work dating from the 1700s.

I loved the huge memorial to Bess of Hardwick

and was intrigued by the display of The Cavendish Brasses which came from their coffins I presume.

There were just two stained glass windows designed by Ceri Richards, and this one is All Souls.

I sat for a minute or two in the Mayor's Pew in front of which is some more wonderful ironwork into which is set the medallion of the City Badge: "The Buck in the Park".

Along the road I spied some lovely Georgian details, like this bell pull

We walked down the Ashbourne Road which leads to Markeaton Park, where we came across Pickford's House, which is one the best Museums in Derby: Museum of Georgian Life and Historic Costume, which has several interesting collections.  We sat a bit on the top floor and marveled at the collection of toy theaters.  Then we started to work down the house, with its interesting bathrooms built in a 'bathroom tower'.  I loved the costumes with their embroidery.

and how about this for a pair of embroidered baby's slippers from about 1800.

Other rooms were fully furnished

 right down to the kitchens and scullery.  The Museum puts on quite a few activities but sadly not during our few days.

You can buy three leaflets which are well worth having, and with a garden plan and planting schemes, the garden was not to be missed.  The garden theme was even in the about this for a beautifully inlaid side table which included fushia flowers.

On the Sunday we decided to stride out further along Ashbourne Road and admire the architecture, and passed the remains of the gatehouse to the old Vernon Street County Prison with its magnificent gates.

A visit to the indoor miniature railway exhibition at the start of the park

and a nice sit down with a drink at the Orangery tea rooms with a fine view across the park to this lovely tree.

The Old Silk Mill in the Centre of Derby was open, and inside we spied a few interesting pieces of aeronautical engineering

I am sure my friend Liz will be able to recognize some of these, not that she would have worked on the first one!  But I guess this may be too much of a bus man's, sorry air engineer woman's holiday!

This Eagle Engine is one of the two engines that powered the first non stop transatlantic flight in June 1919.

We went into the central Museum and Art Gallery a couple of times...the building alone is interesting

and one of my favourite pieces is this one: part of St Alkmund's cross dating back to about 850AD

We had booked our evening meals at the Cathedral Quarter Hotel, and I must say they were excellent.  There were so many other lovely restaurants around, that it would have been easy to find many good ones to eat out at.  If you go to Derby be sure to taste the pikelets at the stall in the Market Hall.  They are freshly made on the griddle along with yeasted Derbyshire Oatcakes.  We sat at the bar on tall stools as we watched them being prepared: I had one with goats cheese, red pepper and walnuts with a great cup of coffee..Mr S chose the rarebit ones with a pot of tea!  There were a steady stream of customers buying packs to take home.

Yes there are angels in Derby, so look out for these and more!

Monday, 22 February 2016

In a Vase on Monday - Sticks and Stones and softer things

I remember singing out this chant "Sticks and Stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me"...I was very young, and remember walking with my cousins Timmy and Jane in the spring in the UK picking 'sticky buds' to bring inside and marvel at the unfurling of the leaves.  Yesterday I was very nearly poked in the eye, but my glasses saved me, so I felt I would be protecting other walkers if I picked a few of the offending 'sticks'.  I love stones and here my sticks pose, along with a couple of the old lichen covered ones,  in a pewter mug along with some of my stones which are just lying around.

Actually I think that words, the wrong ones,  really do hurt, they can fester and always leave some sort of scar.  Maybe it is because you pick at them!

On a lighter note I noticed this morning that the little cyclamen corms that I planted out, last autumn in a seed tray, are performing really well.  Only a couple of years back, they were seed capsules that I scrumped from a cyclamen somewhere or other.  I simply scattered the seeds in my gravel garden and they had settled themselves in there throwing up leaves amongst the stones, before I selected a few to go in the seed tray.  The leaves are quite varied...but show up the little blooms in the tiny three sided vase very nicely among my stones below my sticks.

I decided to look up a little more about cyclamen, and found that on the cyclamen Society's web page that they are healing after all...

In modern herbals, Cyclamen are described as a 'Self-esteem builder essence', which allows the person to get in touch with their self-esteem and confidence, and In white magic circles, Cyclamen are listed as a plant which brings happiness.

I therefore offer both vases this week.  I look forward to seeing what others are posting this week via Cathy's Blog where lions are about to roar!  My stones are nowhere near as wonderful as her tiger eye stone.

Sunday, 21 February 2016


For our mid February Challenge from the Book of Buns, we are making Bublik.  Eaten all over Eastern Europe and Russia, these are a sweetish bun which needs to be poached for thirty seconds before it is baked.

I enjoyed making these, even though I did not allow for the fact that they continue to rise in the oven, and I had not made the central hole quite large enough.

Of course as this recipe said poppy seeds, I was more than happy to pile them on about as thickly as possible on top of the egg glaze, as I could.

I do not normally have any supper, preferring to have a glass of water only, once dinner is over with. 

However I had baked these late and the smell was heavenly.  I love seeds, and particularly poppy seeds which I always used to try to sneak onto my loaves until Mr S said he preferred them without!  We enjoyed one each with a glass of milk, and found the flavour really lovely, and the texture soft and fluffy, and Mr S loved the poppy seeds.

It was light enough to sit out in the conservatory this morning at 8:30am, and we love to take full advantage of natural daylight.  Mr S set out breakfast, with tea and coffee, and fruit, with the warmed sliced bun with a sliver of butter and my home made apricot jam...perfect for a lovely Sunday morning breakfast together. 

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Lacy Heart Socks

I always mean what I say, and my friends do know was not surprised when Kay took me at my word when I offered to knit her a second pair of socks.  Her husband had been teasing her that he would have to pull her socks off her and wash them in the night and then return them, as they do with their grand children's snuggly toys!  She loves to wear the pair I knitted for her recently in the evenings when she is sitting with her feet slippers for this lady! (Of course she has been washing them regularly)

Kay found some lovely yarn, during one of her middle of the night scans on her ipad, and came up with a hank of Titus by baa ram ewe, in 70% British Wool and 30% UK Alpaca.  Each time I have to wind up a hank, its lovely to get out the wooden swift and the winder, but I do have to look up the instructions!

It is indeed a fine yarn and very warm...but now I know why I personally err towards lighter colours.  It was not easy to knit this one by artificial evening light.

I had started with a complex lace pattern, but realised that even counting the stitches was hard.  I frogged the sock and started again.  In the end I decided to knit up a fairly plain  pair of socks as long as I thought I could get out of the wool without my usual panic, with some little hearts.

Even counting the rows was difficult so used a contrasting yarn to weave in and out every 10 rows...for the second sock it was every five, as this much easier to see and very quick to count up.  I used this out of desperation, and now I have a technique to help me through other projects.  For most of these photographs, I have lightened them on the PC.

Here are the socks finished...the hearts are on the outside so there is a left and right sock, and I had just a comfortable amount of the cake left, and I had a little more in the bottom of my project bag left from frogging or pulling out the little of lacy sock that I had given up on.

With that I knitted up a little bit of rick I just could not find the right sort of ribbon!

Kay gives so many hours of her time to making things for other people, and also leading our WI craft group each week...its lovely to think I can make her something!