Thursday, 27 October 2016


Good Morning to you,

I am having a sort out.

Well, that's not strictly true.  What I should have said is, I am trying so hard to have a sort out.

.... and it's proving really difficult, because during the process of sorting, I am coming across so many sentimental items.

For instance, I discovered baby cards, which I received from family and friends when Natasha and Danielle were born. Some family members, sadly, are not with us anymore, which makes the cards even more precious.  How can I not treasure a card, which reads,

'Thank you for our first Great Grand Daughter. Bring the bairn to see us as quick as you can'.

With lots of love,
Great Nanna and Great Grand Da

So as you can imagine, the process of sorting is taking even longer, because I am reading all the lovely messages written in the cards.

Should these cards be thrown away? 


Should I keep them?

Quite honestly, I really can't make myself throw them away.  These cards have travelled with me through out the last 40 odd years. They have been packed and re-packed with each move we have made.

So what to do. I have decided to return the cards to their respective boxes and when the girls come to visit, I will share the memories with them and they can decided what they want to do with the cards.

For now, that is one issue sorted. It hasn't released any space, but I feel content with my decision, because it means I can hold on to the cards a little longer, without feeling guilty.... how clever am I?

I even found some Wedding Telegrams.... now that is something we don't receive nowadays.  Do you remember when we received telegrams?

.... and then there are the clothes.

With clothes, I do not have too much of a problem, but you are going to laugh, when I tell you, that I have a pair of M&S culottes from the 1980s which I love.  The waist is a little tight, no it would be fairer to say, the waist is much too tight.... looking at the waistline I have to say, I had a very trim waistline back in the 1980s. Am I going to donate the culottes to charity..... the answer to that would be a resounding no, although I can hear you saying you think I should. After all, they have been languishing in my drawer for quite a while.   In their prime, when the culottes were new, they hung neatly on a skirt hanger... colour co-ordinated with my other clothes.... yes even I'm impressed that I used to colour co-ordinate my clothes in the wardrobe.  Then as time went on, they were rolled up, which was the new way to keep clothes crease free, and relegated to my chest of drawers. Now they are neatly folded, taking up residence in a drawer, underneath our bed.

I have thought this through.... and it's those precious memories that come to the fore once again.

When I first met George, as a young 16 year old teenager, I was wearing a navy blue pair of culottes, which were very fashionable in the 1960's.  I wore them with a pale blue jumper, navy blue tights and a navy blue pair of shoes.... you can see I loved to be colour co-ordinated.... in fact I still do. Oh yes and a pair of daisy earrings.... which I loved. It's amazing that I can remember these details and yet, sometimes it is the polar opposite. I have been known to walk up the stairs, reach the top, and not remember why I had gone up the stairs in the first place. I walk back down again, have a think and bingo, I remember.... and back upstairs I go.

.... but I digress.

So back to the culottes. They are not the original 1960's navy blue pair, but they are linked with my first memory of meeting George.... so I think, for now, I will leave them where they are, neatly folded in the drawer. Each time I decide to have a tidy, I will look at the culottes and remember the first moment I saw George.... and as young as I was, I fell in love with him instantly. I knew he was the man for me.

.... and talking of memories.  I was reading some of Ivy and Phyllis' old cookery books and came across a recipe for,

Bread and Butter Pudding.  I always made Bread Pudding for my father, because he loved Bread Pudding, which is much denser than Bread and Butter Pudding.

This recipe is not dense, there are no currants or raisins, instead I have used dark chocolate. The end result is a light delicious pudding. Perfect for the colder weather.

So it's on with the pinnie and the music I am listening to today is,

I do love listening to Country Music. I came across Mark quite by accident, and I love what I heard.

So while I'm singing, the words, 'Dance, Like There's No Yesterday', yes, honestly, I love singing along to songs. George always says, he knows what mood I am in, by the amount of singing he hears coming from the kitchen.... on that note, I will organise my ingredients.


1 x 350g brioche rolls
50g unsalted butter
2-3 tablespoons of Demerara sugar
4 rounded tablespoons of Dundee marmalade
100g dark chocolate. (74% cocoa)


4 medium sized eggs (at room temperature)
75g caster sugar
200ml double cream
600ml full fat milk
1 teaspoon vanilla paste


1 large roasting tin
13" x 9" pie dish
(Make sure the pie dish fits inside the roasting tin with room to spare)
1 medium sized mixing bowl


Slice each brioche roll in half.... horizontally.

Place the butter in a small pan along with the marmalade and using a low heat, melt the butter. 

Stir the butter and marmalade together. You will  find the marmalade will become a little runnier, which makes it easy to spread onto the brioche rolls. 

Spread the butter and marmalade onto the halved brioche rolls. 

Then cut the brioche rolls in half again, vertically.

Arrange the brioche neatly inside the pie dish.

Break the dark chocolate into small pieces and tuck into the buttered brioche.

Set aside for the moment.


Crack the eggs and place in a medium sized bowl. The bowl needs to be large enough
 so that you can whisk the ingredients well.

Add the sugar,

the double cream,

the milk,

the vanilla paste

and whisk the ingredients together.

Ladle the custard over the brioche. 
Gently press the brioche so that the custard can soak into the brioche.

Sprinkle over the demerara sugar.

Leave to stand for 25 minutes.

Whilst the brioche pudding is standing, pre-heat your oven to 180C/160F Fan.

Place the dish containing the soaked brioche into the roasting pan. 
Boil a kettle of water and gently pour the boiling water into the roasting pan, being careful not to splash the brioche. Use enough water so that it reaches halfway up the side of the pie dish.

Carefully place in the pre-heated oven and bake for 40 minutes.  The custard should be set with a little wobble.

and the top a rich golden colour.

Believe it or not, it is a light pudding, but you do not want too much, although after the first mouthful, you will want to eat more.

George loves to pour single cream over his pudding.

The flavour reminds me of a Terry's Chocolate Orange, which incidentally I am quite partial to. The rich dark chocolate, with the bitter orange marmalade and the lightness of the custard makes for a wonderful pudding.

I usually buy a brioche which I slice, for this pudding, but Lidl's had some brioche rolls at a good price, so I decided to use them.... and they worked a treat. Oh and the dark chocolate came from Lidl's as well.  This is not a promotion for Lidl's, I just find that Lidl's have some very well priced ingredients.

I have added Dundee marmalade to the recipe, because a lovely friend gifted me some Dundee marmalade. Usually I make my own, when those lovely Seville oranges arrive from Spain during January.  If you would like to make your own English Marmalade, pop back to 2013 for the recipe.

This week I have decided to feature my Shepherd's Pie made with Lentils.... perfect Autumnal food.

Take care and I will see you next Thursday.

This week I will be joining, 

Thursday, 20 October 2016


Good Morning to you,

Have you noticed, when we pass people in the street, we are often privy to some lovely conversations, which aren't really meant for our ears, but we can't help but overhear. Of all the conversations which I have overheard, I have never heard a snippet of conversation, like this little gem.

This is what I heard, as I passed, two gents talking to each other.

'Let's round it up to a nice £100,000.00.  That is such a nice, round figure.'

I drew a gasp, which luckily was not loud enough for them to hear, and I carried on walking towards my car.

I was on my way home after spending a lovely morning with my friends.

.... and while I was driving home, I started thinking.... have I ever thought of £100,000.00 as a nice round number.... well the answer to that question, would be no, because to tell you the truth, I have never thought about the sum of a  £100,000.00. It is a number which has never figured in my life.

.... but let's pretend.  If I did have access to a spare £100,000.00, what would I do with it.

There are the obvious answers, such as, pay off the mortgage, share the money with our daughters and family and give to charity. I mean that goes without saying.

So apart from all the obvious answers, of which there are many.  If money was no object and I had this amount of money available to me, what would I spend the £100,000.00 on.

Being the thrifty person I am, I could visit the Pound Shop 25,000 times, spending an average of £4 per visit. Would I tire of that, probably, because although I am thrifty, I can't think of enough things to buy. So I wouldn't be able to spend my money there.

I could go to the cinema approximately 16,600 times. The problem with that is, will there be that many films which I will want to see.... probably not, plus I don't have enough years in front of me, to go to the cinema that many times.

I could buy 16,666 pairs of shoes at £60 a pair. Would that make me happy.  Initially, I would say yes, but after buying the first couple of pairs, the excitement would wear off and I would become bored. The pleasure of buying a new pair of shoes would then disappear.  

Then how about my garden. Can you imagine the amount of specialist plants I could buy for my garden, but I wonder, would I be any happier with my garden, than I already am. Would I look at each expensive plant and think 'How wonderful, I own a plant which cost £100, £200.... or even more'. I just know I wouldn't. I have created most of my garden, by swapping plants with friends and family, buying plants from car boot sales and the Pound Shop and discounted plants at my local garden centre.  My pride and joy, and only expense for my garden, are my David Austin roses,  but I have to tell you, each time I buy a David Austin rose, I feel a warm glow inside, because I just know the rose is going to be stunning when it flowers.  So I don't need a £100,000.00 spent on my garden to give me pleasure.  

In fact, my favourite gardening expedition, was when Natasha and I went to the Chelsea Flower Show. On the very last day of the show, the plants are sold very cheaply, so as you can imagine, this really appeals to me. Each plant we bought was such a bargain. You should have seen us trying to carry our roses whilst boarding the train.... it was hysterical. When we left the Chelsea Flower Show and looked around, there were so many like minded people, struggling to carry their plants, whilst walking towards the tube station. Also like us struggling to maintain their grip on the plants they had bought, and also like us, loving every minute, because the pleasure they would receive, when they arrived home with their plants in tact, would be immeasurable.

So if there is nothing I would wish to buy for my garden, 

.... how about a diamond ring. I have to tell you, I couldn't bear wearing a ring which cost so much money. I mean, what's the point.  Yes the ring would be beautiful and yes it would be sparkly, (and I do love a bit of sparkle) but would I be filled with joy each time I wore the ring. Again I don't really think so, and if ever George decides to buy me a ring, I'll wear it and let you know (truly I am only joking as that will never happen). So I can cross an expensive diamond ring from my list, as it is not for me. 

I've just had a thought.... another reason an expensive ring would not be for me, is, it would probably disappear just like my reading glasses. I'd put the ring down, then never be able to find it again.

The list could go on and on. 

So what would you do with a spare £100,000.000. 

I just know, you will want to list all the kind things you would want to do, but this is just a fun question, think of something frivolous.... I can't help you I'm afraid, because I'm still thinking.

So while we are both thinking, it is time to tell you, that the music I am listening to today, is taken from a lovely triple album which George bought me last Christmas. The album is called 'The Fifties Album' and it is chock-o-block with one of my favourite genres of music. It has been difficult to choose just one, but finally I have chosen,

sung by Nat King Cole.  George's father loved Nat King Cole and every time I hear him sing, memories of Bob come flooding back to me.

Now I have to tell you, today, there is no baking or cooking, instead I thought it was time to share with you the results of the garlic cloves I planted in September 2015.

You have no idea, how hard it has been for me, to leave them alone, but leave them I did.


a couple of weeks ago.... and look at these little beauties.  I am thrilled.

My friend told me that garlic grows in a similar way to onions and that when the stems start to look as if they are withering away, it is time to dig up the bulbs.  The important word is dig and not pull.

This is how the garlic looked in May.... very healthy don't you think, but not ready to be dug up.

Now between you and I, I think maybe I left them a little too long.  Looking at these pots, you would think there would be nothing to show for all my trouble.

So I was a little apprehensive when I put the trowel into the soil. I really should not have been worried, because this was the first little beauty which appeared. Out of the 5 cloves I planted in each pot, I dug up 4 garlic bulbs.... I am so pleased.

.... and the second pot which I planted still had the stems attached when it came to digging up time. It didn't seem to make any difference to the size of the garlic bulbs, they were of a similar size.

I have since learnt that I should have kept the stems in tact so that I could plait the stems.... lesson learnt for next year.  You can see how well that single clove grew into a bulb.

.... and if you are thinking.... ooh I don't like the look of those garlic bulbs.  Just take a look at how they look when they are cleaned and the skins removed.

I was so thrilled with these garlic cloves, that I used these straight away.  I tucked them into the cavity of a chicken, along with some quartered lemons and I slow cooked the chicken.

.... but that is something to share for another time.

If you would like to read how I  planted my garlic cloves, then  pop over and see how it all began. Give it a go.... honestly with the right planting conditions, you will not be disappointed.

Oh and before I leave you.  As far as the £100,000.00 is concerned, I still haven't thought about how I would spend it.... I think it is just too much money for me to think about.

Take care and I will see you next Thursday.

Thursday, 13 October 2016


Good Morning to you,

As you know, I adore Christmas.

I love the preparation that goes into Christmas. I love Christmas baking, the dressing of the Christmas tree, putting up the Christmas decorations and wrapping the Christmas gifts.... yes even the wrapping of the gifts.

So, as you can see, I really do love Christmas.

..... but what I really don't love, is seeing everything associated with Christmas, in late September/early October.

For instance, a couple of weeks ago, at the end of September, I walked into one large store, only to find, right in front of me, a display of Christmas decorations. I have to tell you, I was really shocked. After all, the children had only returned to school a couple of weeks before. Who on earth was thinking about Christmas.

Then last week, I went into a garden centre. I only popped in to buy some bonsai soil and it was like walking into a Christmas wonderland,  filled with Christmas food, Christmas trees, Christmas decorations and Christmas music playing. As lovely as it was, please not in October.

I then visited a card shop, to buy some birthday cards, and there were row upon row of Christmas cards. I mentioned this to Phyllis and she said "Ooh I had better go and buy my Christmas cards, before they run out" to which I said, "but it's only October, why do you need to buy your cards so early?" Phyllis replied, "Well, everyone buys their cards, as soon as they come into the shops, so I want to be sure I am able to buy the cards I like, rather than what's left. That is why I buy my cards early."

I was so surprised at this answer, because, I know I keep saying it, but it is only 13th October.

Nowadays, we don't seem to be able to draw a breath before another celebration is upon us. No sooner has one celebration ended, then we are thrust forward into another. The pressure on us to buy is immense.

When I lived in Cyprus, October was the month of changing seasons.  We still had warm, sunny days. We were able to pick oranges, lemons and figs from the trees, but there was a distinct change in the air. We waited with anticipation, because we knew the rains would be heading our way. We never thought about Christmas, we were more excited to see the arrival of the rain, than to think about Christmas. To see all the dust washed from the trees and to see Larnaca Salt Lake, gradually fill with water again, was a beautiful sight. We knew, that when the lake was filled, the flamingoes would return to feed again.... and this was a sight to behold. There was no reason to even think about Christmas during October. Nothing could be further from our minds.

So what about you?

Are you someone who buys their gifts early? Or are you someone who loves Christmas, but does not give it a thought until December?

Talking about Christmas, today's recipe, has a Christmas overtone to it.... but I promise you, the association, is only in the colour red.

Today we are making Peppadew peppers filled with goats cheese.  Now don't be deceived, these colourful little peppers are full of flavour. The smooth goats cheese goes really well with the piquancy of the peppers.  If you are having friends around and you just want a few nibbles, to go with a glass of wine, then these are for you. I promise you, when you present these peppers to your friends, the plate will be cleared in no time. So I would advise, make more than you think you need.  I always have some in reserve and nine times out of ten they are needed.

So it's on with the pinnie and the music I am listening to is, 

The first time, I heard this song, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up.  I felt every word.... I love, love this song.... James is such a talented man. He won the X Factor in 2012 and from his first audition, you could see this was a very talented young man.  I have to say, he is the only winner whose name I can remember.

As I wipe the tears from my eyes, honestly, this song really moves me, I will organise my ingredients. Luckily for me there is only a couple, otherwise this would take a while.


1 400g jar Peppadew peppers
125g  Abergavenny goats cheese
12 mini vol au vents (optional)

You will need

1 large baking tray
baking parchment


I feel sure you have worked it out,
because it really is as simple as it seems.

Pre-heat the oven 170C/340F

I thought I would show you the jar of peppers,
so you could see what they look like, 
just in case you weren't able
to buy Peppadew.

Drain the liquid from the peppers.
As you can see, Peppadews come with its
very own sieve.

You can see from the size
of this amuse bouche spoon,
the peppers are quite small.

Remove the peppers from the jar and place
on kitchen towel to drain any
excess liquid
if you prefer use a colander.

Remove the goats cheese from the packet
and gently soften.

Now you can do one of two things,
you can place the goats cheese in
a piping bag and pipe the cheese
into the peppers,
you can be like me,
using a small spoon,
spoon the goats cheese
into the peppers.
If you pipe, you will find you need double
the quantity of cheese, because
you will be able to fill the peppers with more cheese.

Place the filled peppers on the baking tray
and don't worry, you will find most don't
stay upright, but that isn't a problem.
Pop them into the pre-heated oven for between 
6-7 minutes.

These little delights
come with a warning.

When you place them on a plate,
be very careful,
because, once tasted,
it is very easy to eat one,
then another
and before you know it,
you will be opening a jar to make some more.


You have no idea how hard it was for me to type Peppadew, I kept typing Pepperdew.  Even when I wrote the title on my photographs, I typed Pepperdew and had to re-do them.  I have read this through, but if the odd Pepperdew turns up, please forgive me.... I did try to remove them all.

As you can see I have included small vol au vents in the list of ingredients, that is because George likes to pop a pepper and then a vol au vent in his mouth.... its his northern roots..... he loves pastry, but I have to say, they do work well together. For me, I love the peppers on their own.  George and I are as different as chalk and cheese, but like the mix of pepper and vol au vent, we do work well together. That is what makes our life so interesting.

Oh, just in case you thought I was being paid to promote Peppadew, I have to tell you I am not.  I only recommend products that I love and use in my kitchen.

So take care and I will see you again next Thursday.

This week I will be joining,


As always,

Thursday, 6 October 2016


Good Morning to you,

I have to tell you, I am a tad excited.

.... and the reason for this excitement is, I am going to learn a new skill. I'm always keen to continue learning, especially if it has anything to do with a needle and thread.

.... and what is this new skill.

I am going to learn how to smock.

I had been thinking about it for a while, but hadn't acted on the thought.

That is, until last Tuesday, when I was talking to my friend Olive, at my sewing group.

We were talking about how fashions had changed over the years, and Olive, who is a young 88 years, told me about children's fashion, when she was a young girl.  We talked about how, Olive's mother would knit her vests and pants, using a very fine wool and the lovely smocked dresses, which were also made for Olive to wear.

I then said, I remember, when I was a little girl, also wearing dresses which were smocked and that in recent years I had thought it would be fun to learn this new skill.  If for no other reason than for the experience itself.

Olive then told me,  tucked away in a cupboard, at home, she had a copy of the Weldon's Sixpenny Series magazine, which  she kindly offered to bring the following Tuesday. 

I was thrilled, because as you know I love reading vintage cookery books and vintage sewing books.

So on Tuesday, Olive gave me a copy of Weldon's Quick and Easy Ways of Smocking.

I was thrilled.  I would guess this is a late 1930's early 1940's edition. My goodness, the cost of the magazine was 6d (pre decimalisation) or a tanner as it was often called. 

As you can see, Olive has made great use of it over the years and the magazine has come apart, but being the canny person Olive is, instead of sellotaping the magazine back together, as perhaps I would have, she has hand stitched the pages together. As I turned the pages, I realised, this was a really good idea, because it allowed me to turn the pages with ease.

So when am I starting to learn this new skill.

Well, I have a couple of quilts which I really must finish and then I am going to apply myself to learning how to smock.... or knowing me, I will be so excited, I will not be able to wait. I will read the magazine, gather my supplies, and before you know it, I will be in my element, learning how to smock.


I could attempt this elegant dress. On second thoughts, I think this would be a little too advanced for me. I have to say, this dress would look just a little bit fabulous, worn with a large brimmed hat. The perfect wedding outfit. I was just thinking, pop a couple of shoulder pads in this dress and this could be a 1980's design. They do say, with fashion, 'what goes around  comes around' albeit in a slightly different form.

I love the design of the collar  on these pyjamas and don't you just love the fluffy trim around the dressing gown.... take a peek at the mules... how fabulous are they. I can just see Bette Davis strutting her stuff, wearing those mules.

Well without a doubt, I am going to have to tackle this design.

If for no other reason than this is the Olive Design.  I will have to mention this to Olive on Tuesday. Although I have to say, on closer inspection, this does look a little complicated.  Maybe this design can wait until I have mastered the basics of smocking. I mustn't run before I can walk.

Do you know, I have a photograph of my father, as a little boy, wearing shoes like this.  They were made from patent leather and all the rage back then.  The shirt, was smocked with honeycomb stitch.  It seems there are a few variations to this stitch.

.... and this little girls dress is a work of art, it is so detailed, using embroidery, pulled threads and smocking.  Making this little dress would have been such a labour of love.

.... and finally,

I could not leave you without sharing a photo of one of my smocked dresses.  It's a shame, because no matter how I tried, I could not highlight the smocking. But if you look closely, you can just see the lines of the smocking. How about those matching hair ribbons.  I obviously loved my dress because I looked so happy.  I asked Phyllis, how old I was, when this photo was taken and she told me, it was taken in Cyprus when I was 5 years old.

Look at that fringe.... what happened there. My father used to think he was a bit of a barber and he would always cut my hair.... and do you know something, I always  wished he wouldn't, because no matter how careful he was, my fringe was always wonky. 

.... oh the memories.

Before I go, I just wanted to mention that Blogger has added a feature, which I have just started using. I can now feature past posts, which I think is a brilliant idea.  Last week I highlighted my recipe for Pear and Ginger Cake, this week I thought I would highlight my English Tea Bread. Who doesn't love a cup of tea with a slice of buttered English Tea Bread.

Take care and I will see you next Thursday.

This week I will be joining,

As Always,

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