Easey peasey rice supper

Oh yum, have just cooked another experimental dish and it has left me smacking my lips so I just had to share it with you! Whether you will have the same reaction is up to you!

I’m not going to put any amounts or weights in this recipe, because its not crucial and it all depends on what quantity you wish to cook!

Easey Peasey Rice Supper

Finely chop  a quarter (or more) of an onion and cook in butter in a frying pan until translucent;
Add some easy cook white rice (as much as you need) to the pan. (Technically if you are making a risotto you should use Italian arborio rice as it gives a lovely ‘glutinous’ risotto, but it’s expensive, so I use easy cook rice with lots of liquid and I find that the result is just as scrummy.)
Add boiling water to a vegetable stock cube (as per the instructions);
Add some frozen peas to some salted, boiling water;
After they reach boiling point add some tinned sweetcorn;
Keep stirring the rice in the frying pan gradually adding the stock;
When the stock has been added, add the liquid from the peas and sweetcorn;
Then add some Tesco’s cooked chicken tikka pieces and a generous spoonful of sweet mango chutney;
Keep stirring and make sure it doesn’t stick, add more liquid if necessary;
Cover and turn down the heat.

When fully cooked, serve up, and enjoy!

Mmm, think I’ll go and have a little more, it is, indeed, very ‘moreish’.

Yet another day of firsts!

Well, we really are galloping on apace. Yesterday I had my first shower for nearly five weeks and today I went up the stairs, on my feet instead of my bottom. Hurrah, I would have never thought that such small things could bring so much pleasure!

Yesterday I made another Victoria sponge, which came out of the oven a little over cooked. My cooker must be 20 years old, and I think it might be trying to tell me something! Nevertheless, it is very yummy. Next time I think I’ll try my hand at a lemon drizzle cake, which I love, but have never made. That’ll be fun!

Little Alfie had a telling off this afternoon as he went barging off on his own accord, through the catflap. He had heard Nicky arriving to bring Max in and he has become rather fond of her!

I can’t have him doing that, not just because he could get out on the road, but because I’m afraid he might get stuck. He is becoming rather portly (all my cake that Nicky is feeding him when she thinks that I’m not looking) and I have visions of him getting stuck with this little legs left dangling in the porch. I would have to call out the fire brigade, and as I used to work for them in the days of yore, it would be rather embarrassing! Come to think of it, most of the firefighters I worked with have probably long since retired! Ha ha.

Must keep my ears tuned to the noises outside, as our local school is having a fireworks display tonight and I need to go out and check on Max. It’s about half a mile away so not too close, not like one of the firework parties in the village on Saturday. I thought that they had invited a tank regiment or an artillery regiment, sounded like mortars going off. Poor Max, he doesn’t like the bangs, though I think he quite appreciates the pretty aerial displays. He has a lovely big sky to watch from his stable and his eyes are out on stalks. He is so funny. Alfie, thank goodness doesn’t seem to worry about them. He really is very good, and is no trouble, well, until he decides to take himself off outside!

A day of firsts!

Yesterday was a wonderful day, definitely a big step forward (not hop!).

I had my first bath since I broke my ankle, it was glorious! Only thing that spoiled it was my lack of a bath pillow, which is essential with my bath.

When installing the new bathroom suite 12 or so years ago, I made the mistake of not trying the bath out in the showroom. If you replace your bathroom, I can’t emphasis enough that you should shake of your shoes and get into the bath! I didn’t and it was a big mistake! Why, you may ask?

Well, my bath is great if you’re tall, but for little ol’ me it’s so uncomfortable. I can’t sit up because I can’t brace my feet at the end under the taps. To do this, I have to lie on my neck! It is longer because the back is very upright, and not sloping like the old one. This makes it uncomfortable as I can’t sit up properly because my legs aren’t long enough!

However, with a blow up bath pillow strategically placed, I can lie comfortably for a long soak. I do have a brand, spanking new, bath pillow all ready to inflate last night when I decided to take a bath rather than a shower. So, with the water in the bath, I took the pillow out of its bag. The mouthpiece together with stopper are barely half an inch long,  and although I huffed and I puffed I couldn’t blow the damn thing up! Ridiculous! I feel an angry email coming on to the company who sold it to me!

So, sadly I couldn’t lie back and relax, but I did wallow around like a hippo in mud having the time of my life. What joy to have a lovely soak!

My second first was a lovely cuppa out of a china mug. What joy, again, no nasty plastic taste!

The last first was supper on a plate! Wonderful. For the last few weeks I have had to eat my food out of a plastic, lidded box, as this was the only way I could transport it, in my bag, to the dining or sitting room. I could eat off a plate because I used just one crutch, on my bad ankle side, leaving the other hand free to carry cup or plate. Great progress, but I don’t know whether I should, yet, be using just one crutch, but it was only for a short walk.

After the storm

Judging by the number of poor people who are still without electricity after Monday morning’s storm, we were really quite lucky. I am surprised that we didn’t have a power cut as we normally have one hereabouts nearly every month!

We kept Max in his stable while the storm was at its height on Monday morning. Sadly for my neighbour’s (and maybe for my new fencing panels), a huge chunky branch off their willow tree crashed down on top of their swing (fortunately no child on it at the time!) and my fence. I have to say that the rest of the tree looks rather dangerous, and, if I was my other neighbour, I would be worried that it would come crashing down on my conservatory!

A casualty of the October storm!

A casualty of the October storm!

Will this herald the demise of this willow?

Will this herald the demise of this willow?

Oh dear, and my beans have come crashing to the ground!

Flattened!

Flattened!

Will have to be careful when Alfie and I go down to check the post box, as we do after lunch every day, that no branches drop on our heads – it all looks decidedly dodgey!

As the weather is getting colder, I thought that I had better hop out and start my car up and run it for ten minutes, as it’s about two weeks since Barry, the builder did it for me. Don’t want the battery to go flat on me… Whoops. It’s not just my bean support that’s flat, my car battery is too. Boo hoo. Now, what do I do? Do I ask somebody to put the battery on my charger, or do I wait before I can drive, then charge it up then? Probably the latter is the better idea, as I won’t need to keep turning the engine over regularly for the next few weeks, before I can drive. Wonder when that will be?

This time last week I made my first ever Sainsbury’s online order, tempted by the £15 discount for first orders. As the cost of delivery on Saturday evening is only £2.50 (because Strictly is on TV I wonder?), I went for that. Was most impressed that 24 hours before my delivery slot, they emailed me to say that I could amend my order up to and until 11 pm on Friday night. What a good idea, as ever, you always remember items you’ve forgotten to include in the order. Taking advantage of the chance to amend my order, I followed the instructions in the email, going into my account, where I could see my order, and clicked ‘amend’. Eeeeek the screen went blank, except for the headings. Heeelp! I  yelled when returning to my account only to find that the ordered had completely disappeared!

Not knowing my way around Sainsbury’s online (have done many Tesco online orders) it had taken me over an hour to input my order. All wasted! I was furious, to say the least and banged off three irate emails to their helpline, hoping that somebody could bale me out as the 11 pm deadline was fast approaching and I had nothing to look forward to but an empty fridge!

By 10.40 in desperation I phoned their helpline (don’t know why I hadn’t thought of that in the first place). The young lady was very helpful and talked me through what I had to do, as, indeed, my order hadn’t been lost! (Hurrah!!) After I had clicked on amend, as previously instructed, and the main screen went blank, she told be to click on basket. This took me back to my order where I could include those item I had forgotten, proceeding to check out as normal. Easy peasey…. when you know how!

After several emails from Sainsbury’s apologising for my experience which they thought was because of new programming functionality with their updated website, which was currently being integrated into their current site.

The next day I emailed the helpline again, suggesting that to stop this happening to other customers, all they needed to do was to include some more instructions vis: When you click on ‘amend’ your order will disappear from your account. By clicking on ‘basket’, you will return to your order where you will be able to add the extra items and continue as normal. Crazy that they only give you half of the instructions to get into your order. They said that they would take my suggestions on board, so that’s something I suppose! Oh yes, and they gave me a £10 voucher code to show their good will. Even better I say!

Apparently I should have disconnected my car battery, knowing I wouldn’t be using it for at least six weeks. Why didn’t anybody tell me? Will now have to ask somebody to remove it from the car for me and I’ll put it on charge, hoping that it will take it. If not it’s a new batttery. Not what I want to hear. Oh, I do so hate being reliant on other people to help me. Is this is what it’s going to be like when I’m old? God forbid.

Footnote: News report on TV re Suffolk villages still without power showing a young mother with her baby. She was dressed in a down jacket and long boots, saying she couldn’t keep the baby warm despite layers of clothes and a blanket, as they had no heating. I shouted at the TV “Then put a woolly hat on him you silly girl!!!” Don’t people realise that 30% of heat loss is through the head? Grrrrrr!!

 

 

Facing up to one’s limitations

Reading Slummy Single Mummy’s latest blog post: What do you do when you are just not very good at something? started me thinking about what I’m not very good at. Of course, there are lots of things. Usually I will work hard at practicing what I’m not good at, to try to improve, as anybody would, but practicing one particular thing, doesn’t make the slightest bit of difference.

Until little Alfie came into my life, I had forgotten all about it. Now, he loves nothing better than playing ball, though as I have said before, he doesn’t like giving it back to me ! However, when he does give it up, he looks expectantly at me to throw it again for him. This is where the problem arises. Sorry Alfie, I just can’t throw balls. Not into the far distance. Nor in the direction I choose. No wonder I was never in the rounders team at school!

Think I must have weak wrists or something, because the balls go a pathetically short distance, or up on the stable roof, or into the nettles. Not that it has worried me until now. Alfie looks oh, so disappointed that he doesn’t have to go far to retrieve it, or he can’t retrieve in because I have thrown it, strangely he thinks, into the beech hedge!

I’ll just have to accept it. I can’t throw balls. I can’t make stones skim across the top of water either (weak wrists again?), which is something I have always wanted to do! Ho hum.

Will just have to concentrate on the things I can do. Like making chutney, for example. Yes, you’ve guessed, I have made another batch! This time it’s spicey brown tomato chutney and although I say it myself, it’s very yummy. I just can’t let all those tomatoes I’ve grown this summer, go to waste, now can?

Spicey brown tomato chutney

1lb (450 g) chopped red tomatoes
1lb (425g) peeled, cored and chopped cooking apples
1lb (450g) peeled and chopped onions
8 oz (225g) brown sugar
8 oz (225g) chopped cooking dates
1 (560 ml) pint malt vinegar
Grated rind of two oranges
3 crushed garlic cloves
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste

Easy peasey, chop it all up and mix it up in your pan, following the instructions in my Red tomato chutney post. Makes 4 good-sized jars.

More little gifts for kind people

More little gifts for kind people

 

More musings from an OAP on crutches

I awoke to the sound of the doorbell. Oh no, I groaned. I looked at the bedside clock. 9.30 a.m. I groaned again. I had overslept!

I am not surprised. My lovely nephew had taken me out to supper the previous night. On the recommendation of a friend, we had gone to a not too recently refurbished pub. I have to say that it was excellent! Brilliant service, friendly atmosphere, lovely tender, tasty steaks and a cheese cake to die for! What more could you want? Thanks Myf for the thumbs up.

We had a good ol’ chin wag, catching up with all the family news, with your’s truly knocking back two large glasses of house red!  All in all, it was a wonderful evening, not only because it was great to leave the cottage after three weeks of internment, but because my nephew is my only close relative (well, he does have a brother and sister whom I haven’t seen since their parents’ funerals) and he is such a lovely chap – so easy to talk to. As he said afterwards on FB, he was amazed at the subjects we covered!

Hence my lingering in the land of nod. I gathered up my thoughts and my crutches. Hobbling to the door in my skimpy night attire I thought I was either going to give Barry (my lovely neighbour Alfie-walker) a heart attack (he’s 72) or a big thrill! I needn’t have worried as, for a change, it was his wife who had come to collect Alfie. She’s lovely too, so bubbly and smiley and ready for a good laugh. They are a very kind, genuine couple and I am greatly indebted to them!

I was a bit reluctant to hoover, or go upstairs as I was awaiting the arrival of an Amazon order. As it takes me much longer to get to the door, I worry in case the courier gets fed up with waiting and sticks the proverbial card through the catflap. Especially as I can’t hop in the car, although I could hop outside it(!), and drive off to collect the package in some far-flung location!

I have to say that the couriers were extremely efficient, because later that day, when opening Outlook,  I saw an email giving me the time it was to be delivered! Marvellous, well done DPD – Predict, ten out of ten. Oh, I do wish that other couriers, and utility companies, could peg down the time of their visits so precisely. Would make life so much easier, especially when working full time.

Well what was the package, you may be wondering? It was a lovely, luxurious, soft cushion for Alfie’s plastic dog bed. When he came to live with me he was delivered with six weeks’ supply of dog food, his lead, feed bowls, bed and cushion. I haven’t told you the story of how we found each other, but I believe it was meant to be. Or fate, however you like to call it.

A couple of months ago when out for a ride on Max, I decided to pop by to see if a friend of mine was in. They both work full time, but also have a small holding with sheep, store cattle, etc. My luck was in and she was working from home that day. During our chat, she asked if I needed any hay as, because it had been such a good year for hay, they had a surplus. I jumped at the chance, because I knew it would be good quality, with no weeds.

So, later that day I went back, without Max, to have a look at said hay. As we were chatting a little dog came out of the house and came up to me putting his paws on my knees, lifted one which he waved at me tilting his head to one side and smiling!

My goodness, what a happy chappie, I thought. Gill, my friend, said that she had never seen him so enthusiastic with a stranger, nor had she seen him smile before! She then asked if I wanted him. You could have knocked me down with a feather. Why on earth would she want to give her dog away? “He’s obviously chosen you”, she said.

It transpired that he had been her mother’s and she had died in May of Alzeimer’s. Alfie had been lodging with them for 18 months or so. Gill’s a cat person who doesn’t really like little dogs and they had never really did get on. So I said yes, I would have him on three weeks’ trial. If he chased the cat he would come back.

The first few weeks I didn’t know whether I really wanted a dog, I still don’t.  I had told myself that if Max expired before me, then I would consider looking for a dog as I had always wanted one, but, working full time, was never in a position to have one. I would have liked a rough coated bitch. But then, things rarely work out according to plan, do they?

Alfie, is such a lovely, kind, little dog without an ounce of aggression in him. He is a bit of a Uriah Heap very ‘umble, very willing to please and, most of the time, very obedient. Which, for a Jack Russell, is more than unusual! He is a happy little fellow, who loves to chase a ball.

Alfie with his ball

Alfie with his ball

The only trouble is, he won’t let go of it! He’ll run off with it saying catch me if you can! He’ll then go beserk, roaring around the paddock like something besotted. He’s full of joie de vivre and does make me laugh!

In the short time he has been with me, he has been such a jolly little companion, especially since I have been cottage-bound. Everybody loves him, he loves everybody. He has been marvellous with my one remaining cat, the nervous little Minnie. Very, very wary of her (I think Gill’s old cat had bopped him on the nose more than once). Because of his timidity, she has gone to him and shows no fear in his company, it is wonderful, more than I could have hoped for. The only times she scoots off is when the doorbell rings and he rushes to the door barking madly. I consider myself very lucky, knowing what some dogs are like.

Because he is such a star, I felt that he deserved a new cushion as his other one is getting a little tatty, with its stuffing coming out. I had searched long and hard on Ebay and Amazon, but all the cheaper ones had negative reviews. I always check out the reviews when buying online. In the end, I decided on this one, which was ridiculously expensive, but I felt that for all the love and devotion he was giving me, he was worth it!

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz love this mum!

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz love this mum!

Positively hopping forward!

I really can’t believe that it’s been three weeks since I jumped off Max (my horse, er, in case you were wondering!) landing on his foot and breaking my right ankle!

Am finding out just how useful crutches are: for turning on light switches; dragging Alfie’s food bowl towards me; closing doors, etc., as well, of course, keeping me upright, well most of the time anyway!

A couple of days ago, Nicky, my horsey help, brought Max in early because she couldn’t hang around as her partner was coming over for dinner. That’s okay I said, if you could mix up his dinner (Max’s, not her partners, tee hee) and leave it with his hay in the stable next to his, I’ll cope! Instead of mixing his feed in his big plastic manger, I asked her to put it in a feed bucket with a handle as I would have needed to carry the manger with two hands, not leaving any for my crutches. I could hook the feed bucket over my left hand crutch handle, which would help when I needed a free hand to close the stable door behind me!

I have always insisted that Max stand back when I go in with his feed, making him wait until it was in his manger before he started to eat it. I just hate bargey horses! This training really paid off, because he waited for me to hop to his manger and empty his feed in, before he stuck his head in.

Thinking that slinging a haynet over my shoulder would undoubtedly unbalance my precarious hop to his stable, I had asked Nicky  to put his hay in a large, empty plastic feed sack. Then it was just a matter of dragging it into the stable and emptying it under his manger. Brilliant, all sorted! Oh, how lovely it was to stick my nose into his neck and smell his distinct odour, feeling his soft hair on my face! I hadn’t realised just how much I had missed the contact with him!

Clocks changing tomorrow… Spring forward…. Fall (Autumn) back… my way of remembering whether to go forwards or backwards. Simples. This will mean that Max is coming in earlier (because, of course, it’ll get darker earlier) , so I will take over giving him his feed and hay every night. Have got out of the habit, hope I don’t forget!

Just in case you think that I have become a couch potato, supping tea and watching daytime TV all day, yesterday I pushed the hoover around and made a batch of bread. I am afraid I cheat by using a breadmaker these days, having always made it by hand. Don’t know why, but the loaves weren’t as successful as they used to be. The flour I was using maybe.

Everybody on social media was extolling the virtues of Panasonic breadmakers, above all others. So 9 months ago, I decided to push the boat out (they’re not cheap) and buy one.

I adapt the wholemeal loaf recipe using approx 200 g of wholemeal flour, 125 g of malted flour and 75 g of white flour, for the medium size loaf. I add 40 g of chopped walnuts, 15 g each of pumpkin and sunflower seeds, 10 g each of poppy and sesame seeds to the seed compartment, and, 5 hours later I have a superb loaf. Easy peasy.

A wholesome Panasonic breadmaker loaf

A wholesome Panasonic breadmaker loaf