Tuesday, 30 September 2008

A little bit of frugality!

Well, it's the 30th September and the last day of the September grocery challenge that I've been doing. I set a somewhat hopeful target figure at the beginning of the month and am delighted to have come pretty close, only a couple of pounds over in fact. It's the first time I have taken part and found it such a useful exercise in both self-control at the supermarket and ingenuity with my larder contents.
I normally have a baking session most weeks to fill the cake tins with morsels of happy sustenance for DH when he takes a break from his labours with the spade, but since last week poor Mr Second Wind had tried the cake tin several times only to be sadly disappointed each time and me apologetically offering a digestive biscuit in recompense mumbling 'I just haven't had time what with the all-consuming garden project'.He deserves home-made cake, particularly since he has worked soooooo hard in the garden. So this afternoon I felt a great urge to bake, but what was left in the larder to bake with? Not a great deal it appeared, so I pulled out some very old recipe books that I used to use in my younger days when funds always seemed extremely limited.

I spent a long time just reacquainting myself with the cake -mix -splattered pages, odd scraps of hastily written recipes along with torn out pages from magazines like Family Circle and Woman's Weekly which I used to love and would never part with.
It was a challenge deciding what I could bake, but I started with two sorts of rock buns from this book.

It was written to accompany a TV series of the same name back in the early 70's presented by Dorothy Sleightholme. I remember watching it avidly then, as my cooking skills were in their infancy at that time. I would turn to it if MIL was due to visit!
Rock buns are one of hubby's favourites. She suggests making various additions which suited very well as I could scour the shelves and see what additions might be possible. The first batch had mixed fruit and mixed spice and for a second batch I used wholemeal flour, chopped up dried apricots, sultanas and cinnamon.

I then toyed with the idea of Vinegar Loaf which was, if my memory serves me well , a perfectly acceptable cake though I can hear you saying .......Eeeew. If anyone fancies making it I'll gladly give you the recipe. I'll revisit that one another day.Then a tiny scrap of yellow stained and faded paper fell out from the book entitled Cornish Heavy Cake. Oh , how often had I made this for the childrens' school lunch boxes. They loved it. It uses lard as the fat component and doesn't use eggs ( I only have one left!) and I have a packet of Trex in the fridge which needs using by November. So, ideal, decision made.
Then I spotted a half used pack of porridge oats lurking so my final choice was a tray of flapjack with a handful of sunflower seeds thrown in for good measure. I seem to have bought a bumper sized pack of these, no doubt a special offer at the time. I'm a sucker for a bargain! On with the cooking and fill the oven. In no time I had a selection of farmhouse cakes ready

As if by magic, as the kitchen filled with that wonderful aroma of baking cakes, Mr Second Wind appeared from the rainy garden expecting yet another digestive with his cup of tea..........Oh what a happy man was he!

Monday, 22 September 2008

It's all gone wrong!

Oh Dear, it's all gone wrong...... and so soon too! My first "proper" post appeared after fighting with the bloggy controls for some time to get pics on and everything only to discover that there is no comment box on it. Now, I realise that maybe no one would want to make a comment but I think it's that you CAN'T make a comment, so it's all quite disappointing. Will I ever get the hang of it I wonder? Let's see what happens this time as a trial. If the elusive comment box turns up at the bottom, please let me know by posting a comment, good or bad, I don't mind!!

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Mary Mary...... how does your garden grow?

As many of you know from the SC forum, we are struggling to 'make 'a garden from the building site that remains from building our house. It has become something of a battle as we have discovered that under the superficial building site surface lurked an old crewyard, complete with grain drier foundations, otherwise known as enormous chunks of concrete, and fastidiously made roads for the heavy vehicles to pass over. Now this was not obvious when we bought the plot, indeed it had an orchard of apple trees boasting the biggest apples I've ever come across and a pleasant stream along the bottom boundary. Idyllic. Even when the foundations for the house were dug it was not obvious 'what lies beneath'.

Well last Autumn, the time had arrived to tackle the job and we reluctantly decided that the orchard would have to go since it lay right at the front of the plot.Always thrifty, we set to, picking all the apples first and cooking/freezing/chutneying/giving away the harvest. Then Mr Second Wind got to play with his new toy, a chainsaw, while I reduced the branches to manageable size with loppers and secateurs before barrowing and stacking the smaller bits for a mammoth bonfire and storing the larger pieces to season ready for our yet-to-be-installed woodburning stove.

After that and a thorough weedkill, we got a jcb to clear the site, or so we thought.......

About 20 Lorry loads of rock were taken away, and similar lorryloads of topsoil brought in so that by the end of last year the area was looking so much better and we were hopeful that it could be seeded in the Spring.
The best laid plans though.... DH was ill for some months and we missed the spring deadline, though most people said "It's much better to wait till Autumn, grass will germinate better" So during this summer we have dug over the area only to find yet more rocks and stones which DH, quite rightly insisted on taking out...... then he discovered the lurking ROAD!!

This pile is about 5 feet high!

Meanwhile the weeds have taken on a life of their own and flourished like Topsy, so my job has been to clear them at frequent intervals. No sooner have I cleared one area the next goes rampant and so on like the Forth Bridge. We did use weedkiller but it's effect was short-lived and too expensive. My efforts were also short-lived but I come really cheap!!

The weather has conspired against us too this summer. No sooner did the sky spot us wielding our spades and forks than the heavens would open. All very depressing.However this weekend the sun has shone on us and we are at last getting there. We have a deadline to sow the grass seed(yes it's ready and raring to be scattered) by the first week in October, so let's hope that Indian summer will last a couple of weeks longer.Please!

DH very sensibly took time to plant the borders back in the Spring and the tiny shrubs are already repaying us with their efforts to grow and flower.

The butterflies are enjoying them too.
I long to have a garden where I can do normal gardening!!

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Hello and welcome to all kind enough to visit

Thanks to the lovely Shabby Angel, I now have this blog. Well actually more a blog-in-waiting as I am unable to get it up and running yetawhile. In the meantime, it allows me to leave comments on your wonderful blogs which have been an absolute joy to read. I'm very much a blog virgin and need a bit of time to get the hang of it all. Angel knows what a numpty I am at techy pooter things but has been incredibly understanding and helpful.She has also made me laugh a lot!
I hope you will bear with me in my attempts to stumble into blogland. I shall need oodles of encouragment!