Friday, 30 March 2018

The Week Just Gone

The week just gone...............

Last Saturday I visited the Grand Opening of a  new Farm Shop "Hen & Hog" that has opened about 10 minutes away from us.
Very Rustic, and as I thought - jolly expensive.

I sipped a local produced Apple and Elderflower Juice - lovely, and sampled some little bits of Millionaires Shortbread from a local bakery - delicious.

I looked at the Home Raised Very Large Free Range Chickens ........£31! - yes they were LARGE (as big as a small turkey) but £31?, I looked at their home produced Proper Pork Sausages £4 for 6.
To show willing I bought a few small salad potatoes and a head of celery and then went home again.

To start with they are only going to be open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturday mornings, which begs the question - how fresh will the produce be?

I'd love to support local businesses, but...............

The Farm Shop Rhubarb was £5 a Kg but we had our first few sticks of our own lovely pink stems for dinner on Saturday evening. Col made custard and turned them into a rhubarb fool (but without  cream....sadly). The sticks came from one of the new crowns I planted last year, better not pull anymore.
I forgot the  'photo opportunity' but I expect you know what rhubarb looks like!
Sunday, we had Siskins on the bird feeder

Monday, a bit of sunshine and it was a good day as gardening was started at last. First I weeded the fruit bed. The Gooseberry bushes planted last year look good, the very old blackcurrant is still alive and the old raspberry canes are shooting.
Then I weeded the vegetable bed that's empty apart from a few skinny leeks and finally we folded back the plastic on the other bed and  got the 5 Swift and 5 Home Guard potatoes into the ground. Re- covered them with the  black plastic for a week or two while the weather warms up.
Col got the mower out for the first time this year.

Monday night I headed across to Framlingham High School for the Suffolk-East WI Spring quiz. It was a very enjoyable evening. 26 WI's from East Suffolk were represented and we ended up 12th.
There was a very funny happening at the beginning........The question-reader lady had a microphone through a speaker which, after she had asked just one question, suddenly made strange noises and then shouted "OK Left and over, up,down, right and over." We realised the loud speaker had somehow tuned into an exercise group going on in the next building. It was so funny. There was a delay while someone went round to the exercise class and tried to find out why we were picking up their frequency. But in the end another ordinary microphone was found and we were able to carry on.

 Tuesday............back to cold and wet weather and I  was off to the vet with Polly for her annual check-over and cat flu jab. I'm glad it's only 3 miles as she complains loudly all the way.

 Wednesday............ and we had been waiting for a call from Addenbrookes as we were expecting Col to be called in for a biopsy before Easter. So on Wednesday morning he gave the Specialist Cancer nurse a ring to find out what was happening. She said she would call back and they were trying for Thursday. I set off to Stowmarket to pay a bill and a bit of shopping and had just arrived in the Asda car park when Col rang me to say they wanted him stay....... straight away. So I zoomed round Asda and home again where Col had his hospital bag packed and off we went to hospital. They had decided that having him in to stay would ensure they were able to do a biopsy and lots of other tests. He has enlarged Lymph glands and they need to know why and they need to decide what to do next. We had a feeling things were not right so although it was a shock it wasn't a complete surprise. We'd been warned many times that Mantle Cell Non Hodgkin Lymphoma is difficult and aggressive.We are gritting our teeth and carrying on best we can as that's the only thing we can do.

Because of heading off to Cambridge in a rush I forgot a book but found one on the shelves in the waiting room,
book cover of Grandmother\'s Footsteps

  it was good to have something to read as I was there 4 hours before they decided that Yes, Colin would definitely be staying. The book was a thriller, not something I would usually read but it kept me occupied. I've read 15 books this month......good grief, just proves how grotty the weather has been and how little housework I do!

On Thursday I made a batch of Hot Cross-less buns. We tried some cheap ones from Asda earlier in the month and found they were doughy and tasteless...... I decided Home Made are best by a long way, but they could do with a bit more spice than the recipe says. I've made a note in the recipe book.

HOT CROSS(less) BUNS  (from Bread - River Cottage Handbook by Daniel Stevens)

500g flour, half and half strong white bread flour and plain white.
125ml warm water
125ml warm milk                                                 ( 50g plain white flour and 100ml water
tsp instant Dove yeast                                                if you want to do crosses)
tsp salt
50g castor sugar
1 medium free range egg
50g butter
100g mix of sultanas and currants and chopped mixed peel                                 
1tsp ground mixed  spice
1tbsp jam and 1tbsp water to glaze

This is VERY sticky to do without a food mixer and dough hook!

Combine flours, water, milk, yeast, salt and sugar. Add the egg and butter and mix.
Then add dried fruit and spice and knead with dough hook on low speed until smooth.
Cover dough and leave to rise  in a warm place until doubled in size.
Knock back dough and divide into 8 (for very large) or 12  for more normal sized.
Shape into rounds and dust with flour. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rise again until double in size.
Preheat oven to 200C/Gas 6. use flour and water mixed in a piping bag to add crosses ( I don't bother)
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
Heat jam and water in a cup in the microwave ( or in a saucepan) and brush over to glaze as you take them out of the oven.

 The recipe is stored on the separate recipe page, right at the end.

Thursday afternoon was fine enough to weed and tidy the quarter circle flower bed at last, I hadn't even cut back the dead stuff from last Autumn. It looks so much better after a couple of hours work.
There seem to be some empty spaces so I'll see what I can find at the next car boot sale.

So to today..... Good Friday, the proper day for eating Hot Cross Buns.
 In the Christian churches manner of adapting pagan traditions, these buns are descendants of small cakes made at this time of year in celebration of the arrival of spring. Even the cross was there before Christianity -as a symbol of the year divided into four seasons. At one time all bread was marked with a cross - thought to help it rise, but this was frowned upon by the church after the reformation and a cross was reserved only for special holy cakes.

Have a good Good Friday
Back Tomorrow


  1. You seem to fit plenty into your days. I agree about the price of the chickens. I usually pay for a higher welfare chicken and prefer to have chicken less frequently because of it but £31 is extortionate no matter what the size. Sending thoughts and prayers for you both as Colin undergoes all the tests. Look after yourself too driving back and forth.
    I’m baking a sourdough loaf today and I think I’ll have a go at the hot cross buns. They won’t be done for breakfast though!

  2. Thanks for the recipe. I'm gutted that I can't have hot cross buns this year - one of the few things I am really missing on this 'diet'.
    Very exciting news about the rhubarb. I haven't been down the allotment for a while but plan to meet Beth there on Monday so I will look carefully at out rhubarb to see what's happening.
    Fingers are very firmly crossed for Col as there's very little I can do otherwise, and also for you. Tough news but, as you said, not totally unexpected. Hoping it something very simple.
    Love to you both . . .
    J x

  3. Will use your recipe today, but in the form of a (crossless) spiced loaf rather than buns. I read the other day that Addenbrookes were cancelling ops because of backlogs, hope that doesn't affect Col. Thinking of you both and hope all goes well. It's our first local boot sale on Monday and the weather forecast is awful....sigh.

  4. As Joy says, tough news for you both and no one can soften that.
    I hope that the next few weeks will see different treatments to combat the disease.
    In the meantime I hope you have time, and the weather, to watch Spring unfurling in your garden.
    Remember to make yourself take some rest, you have to stay strong and fit for both of you and your family. Sue

  5. That looks a lovely recipe. I have no dough hook at the moment. I have some Aldi specially selected buns to try. Hope the weather is kind for the visits back and forth to Addenbrookes. Wishing Colin a speedy exit from there so you can both enjoy Easter at home.

  6. Tough news, but I have to say Sue yours and Col's way of coping with all this is bloody inspiring. You two put all the whingey whiners with stupid little problems to shame. You are amazing ... both of you ❤

    As for hot cross buns, we found the Asda loaf version for £1 a better option as we always like them toasted ... no more poking bits of stuck bun out of the toaster ... result 😊

  7. Farm shop prices are very high and in our local one the produce isn’t always very fresh. It’s also full of fancy preserves and jams. Hope Col finds out some answers and possible treatment while he is in hospital. Glad to hear you have finally been able to get planting and pruning done in the garden.

  8. Hope all goes well with Colin, it was good to be able to do something in the garden. I have seedlings everywhere in my greenhouse.

  9. Fingers firmly re-crossed, as always.

    I'm still waiting to put my early potatoes in as the allotment is very wet & there are few dry days in the forecast.

  10. Wishing Colin and you some peace and hope.

  11. sounds like you had a busy week, The hot cross buns look delicious!
    Hope you have a wonderful Easter Weekend x

  12. Keep strong both of you it is a tough time. Will keep that recipe though not a tradionalist about eating hot cross buns on Good Friday do actually like them.

  13. What a busy week! I’ve spent a bit of time in the kitchen, too. No gardening, yet.
    Prayers for Col.

  14. I'm sorry to hear that Col is back in for some more work. It must be so draining on the both of you. That's amazing that you have rhubarb ready! Mine hasn't even started waking up. (mind you, I still have lots frozen) -Jenn

  15. Sending best wishes to you and Col. The hot cross buns look yummy. My mother made them years ago and they came out rock hard. Very memorable and we've never been brave to try again. Perhaps now is the time to try with your recipe. Happy Easter to you all :)

  16. Your hot cross buns look lovely. Prayers for both you and Col.

  17. Its great to support local business but at those prices they are going to hae to go some. Do hope that your husband has positive results from his tests. Lovely buns too xcx

  18. I am all for supporting local businesses and good animal welfare, but that hen would need to be the size of an emu for that price. I hope the celery and potatoes were extra flavoursome.

    Best of luck with the test results. Don't worry about the housework, I'll send over the little housework elves that do mine - I wish! I hope you have a good family weekend - and remember to eat plenty of chocolate, it is the law.

  19. Afternoon Sue

    I've got a couple of gooseberry bushes (vicious things), but haven't had anything from them - the birds get them before I can! :-( I've also got a thornless blackberry bush (brilliant) and a late raspberry bush. Had quite a few from both bushes last year. Not sure what to expect this year, as cut everything back at the end of last year.

    What a trial you and Colin are having with Col's illness. Keeping you both in my thoughts for good, positive news.

    I'm not looking at your HX buns (they have too many calories). First thing I thought of when I saw the picture was "Calendar Girls" and the girls "modelling" the cakes & buns! :-) They do look scrumptious.

    Enjoy the rest of the day.

    Best wishes to you both.


  20. I hope the hospital stay is helpful for your husband. Take care of yourselves. So much of hospital time is "hurry up and wait" so I'm glad you found a book to help the time pass.

    The recipe looks good and I didn't actually know the background of the crosses on hot cross buns (the pre-Christianity meaning, that is). I'm not religious so I like to hear of alternative histories for symbols :D

  21. Hope everything will be ok. Take care both of you. Prayers and positive thoughts coming your way. And as an off note, those hot cross(less) buns look absolutely divine!

  22. Dear Sue and Colin. all my thoughts and love are with you both; stay strong as so many love you xxx

  23. Isnt our NHS wonderful. And arent you too Sue.x

  24. Keeping you both in my thoughts and prayers. You have had a busy week. I love good rhubarb but it doesn't do well here. 15 books! I have done 2 but our weather has been unusually warm. We are mostly dry here in western Colorado making outdoor work a must before it gets too hot.

  25. Your hot cross(less) buns look delicious! Sorry Colin had to go back in the hospital. I know that is quite frustrating for you both. Many years ago my brother had Mantle Cell Lymphoma and I remember the many ups and downs of his treatment. You are both amazing and an inspiration to others. I send my best and hope you and the family have a wonderful Easter.

  26. Those look absolutely delicious! I might just give the recipe a go. I'm sorry Col is back in the hospital. Sending you both warm wishes and that he'll be home soon.

    Yum on the rhubarb. Mum always made a lovely crumble with custard.

  27. Hope that Col's stay in hospital is not too long, Sue. Hope the tests they run help to shed some light on things too. Xxx Your hot cross buns look delicious, I bet they smelt wonderful as they were baking. Meg:)

  28. I hope your husband's hospital stay sorts everything out and he comes out healthier! Your buns look so good.. I'm on a low carb but my favorite thing USED to be fresh baked bread. Lucky you! I'll keep you all in my good thoughts. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)