Recipes from my Suffolk Kitchen

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

A 'Why?' moment

The older I get the more I have these 'Why?' moments.

The most recent one was due to the ad on the back of the latest Asda magazine
So why do Nescafe think it a good idea to bring out lots of different packs of coffee in designer packaging.
Are there really gullible people out there who will buy it because of the colours on the tin? Or maybe they want people to buy one of each?

Who knows.

Many thanks for duck comments, they are made from bamboo and apparently they do still come with names and two is enough............ I'm not that keen on dusting!

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Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Duck Rescue

Last week I  rescued this little fella from a charity shop.

 He was very sad as he had a cracked foot so no one wanted him.
But I brought him home and Col mended him by tapping his foot back on with a little hammer and then I filled the crack with some glue so that it was hardly noticeable and he went to join a bigger friend on the landing windowsill. His big friend has lived with us for a very long time, so long in fact that when he was made the company were still giving each duck a name.
He has a label proudly tells everyone that his name is Merlin.
They are both much happier now they have some company.
Made from bamboo these original unadorned ducks are from the The Duck Company UK. They now make all sorts of ducks in different colours and with wellies plus they make penguins too. All hand made in Devon and now costing a lot more than Merlin did 10 years ago! and much more than the £1.50 I paid for small duck, who I think will have to be called Arthur.

Just editing in to say just in case ......... obviously the company haven't sponsored this post!

Back very shortly

Monday, 14 August 2017

Saying it Quietly.............. I don't want to tempt fate, but there are No hospital visits this week. The first week without for months and months.
Col has had umpteen tests - lungs, heart, kidneys, ENT - you name it and it's been checked.  Now all we have to do is wait for news of when the donor stem cell treatment will happen. Maybe a bit later than we thought due to the donor having the stem cells taken under general aneasthetic from the spine rather than from the blood.
Next week it's back to what is now normal with two trips to hospital -  Addenbrookes and then Ipswich or it might be the other way round.
What shall we do with our week "off?"
 Definitely visit gorgeous granddaughter, Col wants to get the concrete sorted for the new hard standing for the oil tank and perhaps we'll actually get to the beach hut.

Meanwhile here's another book review. The Song Collector by Natasha Solomons.
 Front Cover
  This was  an author I knew nothing about.

 3 Brothers and their Father return to Hartgrove Hall Estate after the war. The house had been requisitioned and left in a poor state. There's no money for repairs and The General wants to demolish it. The 3 sons come up with a plan to farm the land themselves which means that Harry - the youngest will have to leave university and abandon his musical career. Jack, the eldest son, arrives at Hartgrove with Edie Rose, a singer who has become famous for her patriotic songs during the war. Harry is instantly in love with Edie - their joint love of music being the connection.
The story moves between the 1940's/ 50's and 50 years later when Harry - as an old man, has to find a way through grief.
Music and musicians............ playing, writing, listening and singing is the theme of this book along with love, betrayal,guilt and forgiveness.
 I enjoyed it hugely and have ordered another of her books from the library.

Thank you for so many comments on Saturday's post, I didn't realise it would generate such an interesting discussion.
 The conclusion seems to be that if couples can find a way to organise their money so that it doesn't cause arguments or resentment then that has to be good for them both.

Back  Tomorrow

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Personal Spending

When we got married I'd already been running a home for 3 years. Col had been living with his parents. He moved into my house and we pooled our income. I carried on sorting the finances and worked out what we could afford, he had what money he needed for his expenses and I looked after the rest. We changed our bank account to joint names and put the house in joint names too. That's what marriage was back then - something shared.
It wasn't long before our eldest daughter arrived on the scene and we had one wage. There was no question of it being "his" money just because he was the only one working. We managed on a council road-man's wages because we had to. The only way to manage was to keep close check on spending, do things to earn extra or to save money. The most important things were to pay the mortgage, pay the household bills and have enough to eat. Nothing was left for "personal spending". I don't think the words had been invented!

It worries me now to see young couples arguing over their spending - "his money does this" or "her money pays for that". or "you're not paying your share".  And NOT just young couples, lot's of older people still keep their money completely separate. Sometimes one doesn't know what the other earns.
It sound almost Victorian and wouldn't have worked for us as I didn't earn anything!
 Twenty years on and the campsite was in my name but I never thought of it as my money. I had to keep accounts for the tax man - so I knew what the campsite made, but it wasn't kept separate just for me, that would have been silly. We wanted to pay off the mortgage - the JOINT mortgage so that Col could retire early. Fast forward to 2009 and my Dad left me some money but I didn't think of it as my money it went into joint savings and to build the extension on the house. Now once again all the money coming in is in Colin's name - his County Council pension and his Employment and Support allowance, but it's still our money - going into a joint account and coming out again for whatever we need.

So I've never really had any personal spending money, I've never needed to have any separate money just for me. It's still OUR house and OUR bills. As long as I have a few pounds to take to car boot sales I'm a happy bunny!

Maybe we are odd, but it worked for us. 

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Friday, 11 August 2017

Pleased With These Cards

Three more cards made recently. I have to admit the idea isn't mine, it was something I saw in an old copy of Craft Creations Magazine but all the bits were in my stash including those owls which I'd had for Years without finding a use for them.

A space has been left at the bottom under the owl for adding a peel off greeting. I'm quite pleased with them.
I'm much better at card making if I have an idea to other words I'm not very arty!

Had a re-arrangement of the craft room so that when the Surrey family come to stay we can put Jacob's cot in there - then he won't disturb  H and J and vice versa. Made a good space in the middle of craft room then discovered the cot won't come out of the bedroom without taking it to pieces! Duh! Means when they come to stay we shall have to put the cot back together in craft room each time - how annoying.

Thanks for comments about everything over the last few days. Thank heavens the weather was better yesterday. I did some clearing in the greenhouse and garden and washed pots. 

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Thursday, 10 August 2017

A New W.I. or Rather............................

........................ an old one re-visited.

The little WI group I joined doesn't have a meeting in August but the big WI that I used to go to nearly 30 years ago does, and it's only 20 minutes away. I thought I'd go and visit and see if anyone who was there all those years ago was still going.  There were two people I knew and some others I recognised.  I was made very welcome as someone came to speak to me as soon as I went in and when I explained and said who I knew there she asked that person to "look after me".

The speaker was  Angela Lawrence, who had researched and written a book about something that happened at the beginning of WWI in Suffolk that very few people knew about.

 This is her book, written as fiction but based on fact.

In 1914 The Headmaster of a village school in north Suffolk and his wife had been teaching there for 30 years. They had a son who was interested in languages and they had saved up to pay for him to spend time in Germany in the early 1900's to learn German, by 1914 he was a teacher in South America. Sometime around 1910 two of the girls from the village in Germany where he had lodged came to stay with the headmaster to learn English and after they had returned home they wrote to invite the couple to visit them in Germany whenever they liked.
Then came the outbreak of war and the Chief Constable  of Suffolk became paranoid about spies.The son of the teachers had returned from South America to Suffolk to answer the call to fight for his country but as he had previously been in Germany he was suspected of spying and when the teachers home was searched and the letter from Germany found they too were thought to be spies and were told to leave the County.

Mrs Lawrence had slides illustrating lots of aspects of the Great War in Suffolk and had used the East Anglian Daily Times of the period for much of her research so had copies of cuttings from that too.

She didn't tell us the end of the story but hinted that it wasn't a happy one!

Something I remember from past membership is that often a subject which doesn't sound promising can actually turn out to be really interesting and this one certainly was.

I can be a member of one WI and then also another WI for an extra £19 a year but the year runs from January to December and there is no pro-rata for the second WI. So I can go as a visitor twice more (?)this year at £3 a time and then pay up for both next January. The big WI also have a craft group which I was interested in but it turns out it's just a few people meeting at various houses and knitting!
But they do have a book group which might be worth finding out about.

All the jam I've made will come in handy to donate for draw prizes or bring and buy sales, especially if I go to both WIs next year.

Thanks for comments yesterday, the weather was horrible here, I stayed indoors and made a little Red Hot and Sweet Relish. Not as much as I would have liked to have made but the grotty weather has slowed down the ripening of the tomatoes so it was a case of use what was there rather than wait as the ripe ones would have gone to squashy. None for the hampers - sorry sisters!

Here is a yesterday evening in "summer". Yes that is the wood burner alight and Polly keeping warm
 and outside the rain lashed down and we didn't bother to go and look for the Barn Owl!

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Wednesday, 9 August 2017

A Late Burst of Activity and Other Garden News

Remember the other week.......................just 1 odd shaped aubergine from 4 plants.Well, one of the other plants has suddenly produced 4 aubergines growing nicely
I've got a lot more peppers thank goodness, 4 on this plant and at least 9 more on the other 3 plants.
We have been eating the cherry tomatoes but I'm waiting for enough of the big plum ones to make a few jars of Red Hot Relish. The chili peppers are ready for it - and huge and I bought red onions in readiness as well. Hopefully there will be about 2½lb of tomatoes ripe enough by the weekend.

 From the garden outside we are eating runner beans almost every day as they have suddenly got going again but the courgettes have now ground to a halt, and my second sowing of French climbing beans didn't do well at all. We have plenty of beetroot and hopefully there will be some to store in sand for the winter.

There are 7 big squash and 1 small one on the 3 squash plants which we planted in tyres on the edge of the driveway. They lurk under the leaves, I don't think I put enough soil and compost in the tyres this year, so will make sure I fill them better next year.

The strawberry plants have been transferred from pots into the new strawberry bed, runners pegged into the spaces. There's room for 5 more plants. As for the other new bed..........I think I shall send for some decent raspberry canes to fill it rather than try and move the cheap Poundland/Wilkinsons canes from where I planted them, they've not put on as  much new growth as they ought to have done........cheaper isn't always better.

I've had my instructions for grass cutting with the new ride-on mower. Its a lot smaller than the one that was here which was just too big for me to cope with. Now I can buzz round almost everywhere easily and it's very similar to drive to the one we had at the smallholding.

Hello and welcome to some new followers - great excitement as I'm nearly at 200! The odd thing is that people are still starting to follow the old blog - but I'm not there any more!

Back Tomorrow

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Purple Plums,Yellow Jam and Orange Marmalade

As well as the cherry plum tree we found growing in the hedge boundary at the bottom of the garden we also have a couple of old smallish damson type plum trees on the other boundary. One had several fruit on it, and some had already been eaten by birds, so a week ago while I held the ladder  Col climbed up and picked all the fruit he could reach.
It was just a couple of lb and made 2 jars of lovely coloured jam, which set well, rather TOO well. There was a little bit that wouldn't fit in the jars and Col had it in a sandwich - he said it was rather solid - whoops!
Better than too runny I guess.

A couple of weeks ago I made two batches of Marrow and Ginger Jam using two courgettes that had turned into marrows overnight! This used up over half a jar of crystallized stem  ginger  in syrup that had travelled from the smallholding to Ipswich and from Ipswich to here. Marrow and ginger jam is the other extreme and doesn't set well so needs using up quickly.

Yesterday I used the last of the jar of stem ginger to make Orange and Ginger Marmalade - using a tin of the ready prepared oranges. It's delicious and has completely changed the canned Mamade into something much more interesting and something else for our sisters hampers.

Thanks for all the comments.For the moment  I've set comments so that I see them first before publishing as there were multiple silly junk ones popping up everyday.

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Monday, 7 August 2017

Birds in Boxes

(and a book)
There were a few nesting boxes fixed on the workshop when we moved in but I don't think anything used them this year.
Empty nest box on workshop
 But Very Exciting........................We have Barn Owls!

This box
Very high up
  was fixed there by the previous owners for owls but then someone told them it was too high and Mrs F said only Kestrels had nested in it, although she did say that a Barn Owl roosted in the wood shed sometimes.
We've seen Barn Owls a couple of times swooping round the field in the evening and then Col saw two perched atop the bonfire heap. Walking down our meadow one evening last week we actually saw them coming out of the box. So we've taken to creeping down the meadow at dusk and watching them coming and going, well going mainly as however quietly we creep they still hear us coming! No picture I'm afraid - they are far too quick for that.

Col has now sorted out  three more boxes that were laying in the workshop needing repair and we put them up in different places round about.
This could be a bat box
 And this one below is Coronation Street for sparrows or something?
This one below just needed a new roof, and is suitable for Robins, we've got a baby Robin visiting the bird feeders so they are already nesting somewhere around

 But Barn Owls are special.

And the book?
New Boy by Tracy Chevalier - a re-telling of Shakespeares Othello.
A very short book - I read it in a few hours - but it's very powerful. Osei is from Ghana and arrives at a Washington elementary school when his diplomat Father is posted there. Everyone else in the school is white and over one day jealousy, bullying, betrayal and racism changes the lives of four 11year olds for ever........and of course Shakespeare's Othello is a tragedy.

Thanks for comments on Saturday's library book photo.

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Saturday, 5 August 2017

Library Book Photo and Book Review

Here's my regular photo of the books collected from the library van. Two(the Song Collector and Homecoming) are books I've seen mentioned on a blog and thought I'd like to have a look at. I might not like them but there again it might give me a  new author to read.
 'The Devils Breath' is the next in the series that I came across a couple of months ago. The one by George Bellairs is another of his books reprinted from the 50's. 'New Boy' is the latest  by Tracy Chevallier,it's subtitled Othello Retold - I usually like her books but this sounds different. 'Walk the line' by Mark Mason is a book about following the London underground lines but overground. 'The Story of Classic Crime in 100 books' by Martin Edwards - the amazon description says
'The main aim of detective stories is to entertain, but the best cast a light on human behaviour, and display both literary ambition and accomplishment. Even unpretentious detective stories, written for unashamedly commercial reasons, can give us clues to the past, and give us insight into a long-vanished world that, for all its imperfections, continues to fascinate. This book, written by award-winning crime writer and president of the Detection Club, Martin Edwards, serves as a companion to the British Library's internationally acclaimed series of Crime Classics. Long-forgotten stories republished in the series have won a devoted new readership, with several titles entering the bestseller charts and sales outstripping those of highly acclaimed contemporary thrillers'.

And finally 'Eat Well for Less' a cookery book to browse, this is the one that accompanies the TV series of the same name with the annoying Greg Wallace.

Four weeks ago I brought home these. The ones I've read have been added to the Books read 2017 page. I didn't like the New Mrs Clifton - the storyline was too obvious and I've still got  Small Island by Little Train to read.

I also read two of my own books - one by Barbara Pym and Company in the Evening by Ursula Orange.

 I've just finished this - what a treat of a book it was too.

Vicky is a young happily divorced single mother with a good job but when war breaks out and her brother is killed she agrees to have her pregnant sister-in-law come to live with her. Rene had been living with Vicky's mother who thinks it would be good for Vicky to have "company in the evening".
The book is written in the first person and Vicky thinks "Of all the unhappiness my divorce has brought upon me, loneliness has never been in the least a part. Lack of company in the evening is to me an absolute luxury".
Unfortunately Rene and Blakey (the elderly housekeeper) don't see eye to eye on anything and once the baby arrives there is a lot of friction in the house. Add in an unexpected meeting with her ex-husband, a difficult client at work and an illness for her little daughter and this makes a brilliant story.

First published in 1944 this is one of the Furrowed Middlebrow reprints by Dean Street Press and was a birthday present in April. Now I'd like to read one of her other books " Tom Tiddlers Ground", I shall add it to the other 90 books on my wish list!

Thank you for comments on the un-frugal month of July!

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Friday, 4 August 2017

The Frugalish (Ha.Ha) Notes for July

One day we will get to the end of all the work that needs doing here and stop spending money but in the mean time it's a money pit!
The thermostat on the hot water tank is the latest thing to go wrong!And we must get the garage doors done before the weather turns cold so we can put the car away. Then there are lots of branches that need cutting down and of course the oil tank replacement and the en-suite to be built. Ho Hum!

On the plus side of the equation
First runner beans from garden and first tomatoes from greenhouse. More Mange Tout peas, French Beans, potatoes, chard, beetroot, salad-leaves, radishes, courgettes, cucumbers .

Mange-tout peas, French Beans and courgettes put into freezer

I decorated the Living room - saving several hundred £s

Col replaced downstairs loo saving more £s

Bought two side tables with drawers from auction saving £s against the alternative of new. Living room now tidier and old coffee table now in conservatory.

Cooked meals from scratch and  baked cakes

Green Tomato Chutney made for us and hampers.

Marrow and Ginger Preserve ditto

Cherry plums picked from the wild and some put in freezer.

2lb damsons picked from hedgerow trees and turned into jam

Bulk purchase of Ecover laundry liquid saving £15

Bulk Purchase of kitchen roll - made from recycled paper - which we use for tissues as well - same price as buying un-recycled from supermarket.

Bulk Purchase of Sodium Bicarbonate for cleaning saving £6 on shop price

Col's brother gave us some leek plants and a load of wood off-cuts for the woodburner.

Brought home cakes,quiche and sandwiches from the 'after the funeral' food

Took packed lunch and had free coffees from the clinic while at Addenbrookes

Made cards from stash

Ordered from Approved Foods saving over £30 (unless you count the Lindt Lindor box of chocs which brings the saving down a bit!)

Used vouchers and divi at Co-op and got yellow sticker and local produced sausages and other things £14 worth for £8.

Small cheque back from solicitor - an over payment

Toys for grandchildren from carboot- including huge amount of Brio type railway for £4

On the other hand...................
Paid for new roof for garage
Didn't bake bread this month.
Bought new curtains for living room and another bookcase.
Bought a dehydrator which might be a money saver but might not.
Had to buy food at hospital when we were there for longer than we thought we would be.
Lots of diesel needed for cars due to all the hospital stuff
Part exchanged old huge ride on mower for new smaller one

August might be better but I doubt it

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Thursday, 3 August 2017


It's taken 5 months for the Land Registry to register our title so that the solicitor could finish all the paperwork and get all the old deeds to us.
Trying to decipher all the archaic writing it seems as if this cottage  was once owned by an Estate of a nearby village and was sold in about 1909. There are no deeds earlier than that yet we know the cottage is much older.
I'm not sure how many people have owned it since, the paperwork needs sorting into relevant years. I know Mr and Mrs F bought it in 1979 for £14,000.
 In among all the papers was a death certificate for one of the joint owners in 1975 who committed suicide by poisoning himself in a car in a lane in the village - aged only 21 - how awful.

Along with all the papers came a cheque and note..............

"I enclose a small cheque in your favour being an overpayment on completion.
Although it is a small amount, I shall be grateful if you would arrange to pay it in to balance our accounts"

(I have edited the following paragraph as apparently what I had written offended rich solicitors everywhere!)
Well Of Course I'm going to pay it in! It may be only £8.14 but that's a couple of meals for us

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P.S.Many thanks for comments yesterday and hello and welcome to new followers

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Once Upon a Time ...........

..................not so long ago............ I wrote a diary page for the Suffolk Smallholders Society monthly newsletter. I came across some of the pieces I'd written when a folder fell off the shelf and emptied it's contents all over the craft room floor.

Look back with me to my August pages from 4 different years, first here's 1998, 2000 and 2007. Hope you can read them. Maybe clicking on them will make them bigger - maybe.

July was the month we held the Suffolk Smallholders Annual Show - I think the last one was in 2006 as the new committee after that year felt it too much effort to organise.
and 2012 was still saved on Word, so I can print it out.

Diary From Fareacre August 2012
We have been watching with interest (being nosy!) all the comings and goings up a track across the field near our home. Little Moor Farm is up for sale for the first time in over 40 years and any of the people we've seen going to look around could be our new neighbours. Although whoever takes it on will need to have very deep pockets as it's Grade II Listed, timber framed and needs a lot of work done to modernise it. Standing in over 6 acres, 5 of which are completely overgrown, 1/4 mile from the road, it looks like a dream home but will be a huge job for anyone to tackle. Our guess is that it will become a second home just as all the other smallholdings that have come up for sale in the area recently. We count ourselves as being very lucky to have found Fareacre in its affordable run-down condition 20 years ago before prices shot up.
Watching the weather forecast is our other main preoccupation because of the two words "Hay making". If we don't get a week of good forecasts before the end of August no hay will be made this year, something that's never happened before. The most annoying thing is that our weather here has consistently been better than the forecast and we probably could have got the hay done at the end of June if only we had dis-regarded all we heard on TV and radio.
 There is one crop in the garden that has really benefited from all the rain and that is our new raspberry bed. In 2011 we decided to take out all the very old blackcurrant bushes as they had been given a smaller and smaller amount each year and replaced them with Tadmor, a new variety of Summer fruiting raspberry. In theory these should be later than our July fruiting canes but earlier than the Autumn Raspberries. I find raspberries a very easy crop to grow but only learned that you have to be very strict in digging out the runners after several years of growing them. Our first raspberry bed was allowed to "walk" across the fruit cage and soon wore itself out. Now I ruthlessly dig out anything growing out-side of the row and take the tops off all canes at about 5 foot 6 inches tall. Given a good mulch of compost each Autumn after the old fruiting canes have been cut out, they have been successful now for many years.
On August 5th we will be packing our passports and crossing the border into Norfolk to take our secondhand smallholding books to the Norfolk Smallholders show at Holt. I hope the day is fine and dry as we have a very old gazebo which I fear may not stand up to some of the storms that have made up the summer so far.


Looking back isn't as sad as I imagined. We worked so hard back then I'm glad we've retired!

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Tuesday, 1 August 2017

August Days

I started to paint the August picture in the Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady colouring book but didn't have the right shades - there's only one purple in my set of 24 water colour crayons - to do the thistle, and no green crayons the right shade for the leaves. 

So here's Edith Holden's water colour painting instead.

 My photo of a thistle instead of my colouring
This is what August looks like here in among the arable fields of Suffolk, a field of wheat stretching
into the distance.

The first of August is celebrated in some parts of the Northern hemisphere as Lammas or Loaf Mass. This is when the first loaf of bread made from the first wheat harvested is blessed in a church service.
It would have been a public holiday when fairs were held and also marked the start of the time commoners were allowed to graze their animals on the stubble fields.

 Looks as if it the wheat in the field by us is ready to harvest, but after the rain we've had it's too wet for combines to get on the field for a few days at least.

No wonder one country saying in my books says
 "Dry August and warm doth harvest no harm".

Most other weather sayings are linked to St. Bartholomew's  day which is the 24th and is 40 days after St Swithin's hence the saying 
"All the tears that St. Swithin can cry
St Bartlemy's mantle wipes them dry" 
"If the 24th August be fair and clear
Then hope for a prosperous Autumn that year"

Before the Romans, in Anglo-Saxon times, August was called Weodmonath - The month of weeds!
We have a few of those!

In some parts of the country St Bartholomew is the Patron Saint of Beekeepers because the 24th was the traditional day to begin the honey harvest.

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And a PS. Yes it's knapweed growing everywhere, thank you everyone. The house with no one in is owned by someone with houses in either London and Sudbury, or France and Sudbury or maybe all three. Apparently they've advertised it for sale once or twice but then taken it off the market again. Now and again someone appears and paints or mends something and the grass is cut by someone else. And that's all we know!