Saturday, November 11, 2006

B****y Rayburn!!*$#

16 years we have had the Rayburn and we have never had so much trouble with it as we are this year! I wouldn't mind if it was never serviced, but it is swept and serviced every year as I am fanatical about having a fire in the centre of the house.
Normally we go through one coal bucket of anthracite a day, but since we lit, we are shoving on 2 buckets, I can't seem to get a steady temperature, its either raging or its out?!?!

This morning I found this

the back fire brick has dropped down? The top of it should be in line with the bricks on the left. But how does a firebrick that is sat on a substantial ledge and held in place at the top with a lip, drop down?????? The only thing that ever touches it are the flames????? How long has it been like this? Am I that daft that I didn't notice? So yet again we have had to let it out long enough for the brick to cool down so I can get it out and see whats happened to the ledge, then put it back in and re-lit!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

After cleaning the eglu out this morning, I was sat on the bench and I got some beautiful pics of 'Bree' our Barnvelder

hasn't she got the most beautiful markings and colourings, its a shame she is so frightened of us!

Oh! and I'm sorry if some of you don't like the idea of a countdown to Christmas. I LOVE CHRISTMAS! I have been out and bought a twinkly outdoor christmas tree, I decorate the outside of my house and I have been after an outdoor Christmas tree for years and at long last I bought one! Apparently my sister has bought all her Christmas presents, which rather concerns me because it is usually the other way round and I have them all and she has none! So I had better get organised! Oh! I have just remembered this will be the first Christmas for years that I won't be spending with my sister, we have always taken it in turns one Christmas everyone goes to her next everyone to me! We just can't do it this year so it will be very strange.... watch the phone bill go up!!!!!!!!

Right off to do some knitting, catch you all later!!!!!

Friday, November 10, 2006

A Bit of Good and Bad News, plus something about Cooking and Chickens!

So the mincemeat is done, recipe on previous post,

here it is just out of the oven, you should smell it Mmmmmmmm!! Now the bad news ......
it only made 4 jars, so if I put one in my Mum's hamper, give one to my sister that only leaves 2 and 2 is definately not enough for this family!!!!! So I will have to make some more!This is the smaller cake which I have laced in brandy. It is now wrapped up and I will marzipn and ice it early December.

This is the bigger one. I have made another one today but have made the recipe for a 9 inch round cake and am going to put it in the 8 inch tin, I like a deeper cake! So this will be given away! I thought I only had one more to make but a request has been recieved from Worcester Uni for Christmas Cake and Mincepies, can't resist really can I?????????

Do you think Mark will notice his brandy has gone down??????? It was a full bottle before I started all this baking!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We have had the chickens 6 months today and got 258 eggs, which is an average of 43 eggs a month, 10.75 per chicken per month!!!!!!!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Busy in the Kitchen!

Well after a successful shopping trip after school yesterday I managed to get all the necessary ingredients! So after taking Tori to school then chatting on the internet and phone for about an hour this morning I eventually got going!

I only wish I could let you smell my kitchen as I write this, its devine, very Christmassy!!
First the boring part.... lining the tins, fiddly!

I got so engrossed in the making I forgot to take a pic but here is the mixture in the tin ready to go in the oven.

this one went into the fan oven

and the smaller one is in the Rayburn, which of course because I want to cook on/in it decided's to misbehave and is raging away so I currently have the oven door cracked open (according to the instructions this is fine) but am having to check it about every 20 mins!!!!!

Oh! heavens I've just had an awful thought......................... hope its cooked before I get Tori from school!!!!!!!

Then clear this mess up...

before I start on the Mincemeat, which is very easy to do by the way and once you've made your own you will never buy shop made again...

this has to stand over night, then into a warm oven for 3 hours tomorrow before waiting for it to cool. Then you add the brandy and put it into sterelized jars!!! MMmmmmmmm!!!!!
Obviously as eveything finishes I will post pics!!!
Well must dash still loads to do, chickens, check cakes again, make the tea oh yes and have some lunch!!!! Got to take Tori to the New College, Swindon open evening with her best friend and his mum!!!!!!!!

Mincemeat Recipe

450g/1 lb cooking apples, cored and chopped (I grate them its quicker and you don't need to peel them!),225g/ 8oz shredded suet (beef or vegetarian), 350g/ 12oz raisins, 225g/8oz sultanas, 225g/ 8oz currants, 225g/8oz candied peel, finely chopped, 350g/12oz dark brown soft sugar, grated zest and juice of 2 oranges, grated zest and juice of 2 lemons, 50g/ 20z whole almonds chopped or cut into slivers,(I pop them in a plastic bag and whack them with a rolling pin!) 4 teaspoons mixed ground spice, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg. 6 tablespoons brandy! I usually use more spices but you can add what suits you!

Combine all the ingredients except the brandy. Mix them very well in an ovenproof bowl. Cover with a tea towel and leave in a cool place overnight for flavours to develop. The next day pre heat the oven to gas mark 1/4, 225F, 110C, cover the bowl loosely with kitchen foil and place in the oven for 3 hours. Remove from the oven, don't worry about the appearance of the mincemeat, which will look positively swimming in fat. This is how it should look. As it cools, stir it from time to time; the fat will coagulate and, instead of it being in tiny shreds it will encase all the other ingredients. When mincemeat is quite cold stir again adding the brandy. Pack in jars that have been sterelized. When filled cover with waxed discs and seal. The mincemeat will keep for years if stored in a cool dark cupboard. Not that mine ever does!!!!!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Lots of things!

Well what have I been up to recently.......................................................

Monday I blitzed the house and even managed to find the floor of my bedroom!!!!! Our room is in the huge attic, on the 2nd floor, so no one, apart from us goes up there, which is why it is often left and left and left!!! We had a bit of a night with Tori as she had a Maths exam on Tuesday and she gave Mark and I terrible grief during the evening, unbelieveable!

Tuesday was one of those days when I had lots of little things that needed doing, so charged round like a 'whurlitzer'. By the end of the day when I looked back to see what had been achieved it looked like nothing, as they where all little insignificant bits! Mind you I did get my hair cut! The other big surprise was my young friend Tori, I think she realised how awful she had been the day before and decided to pay us back. Mark and I where having stirfry, not one of Tori's favourites, so she cooked herself Macaroni Cheese, not the most challenging recipe but for her it is one BIG achievement. She also cleared all the plates away without even being asked too!! I had to sit down for the rest of the night!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I now have all the ingredients for my soapmaking challenge, both Lottie (Allotment Lady, blog on the left) and I are going to make on the same day, I'm actually quite excited about it and am not sure if I can hold of till next week when we both have a free day!!!!!!!!

So to keep me occupied I thought I would make CHRISTMAS CAKES and MINCEMEAT. I have to make 3, well actually it maybe 4 this year! One for us, one for Marks birthday in January, one as a present for Christmas and then I remembered that my sister and I where doing a hamper for Mum and Bruce for Christmas, I thought they might enjoy a small one, so thats the four! So wrote my shopping list, took Tori to school and then was going to go on and do the shopping, except getting into Chippenham at the moment is a nightmare, they have dug up the highstreet so I thought never mind I'll go to Devizes for a change.......................... ended up at Morrisons and guess what ........................................................................ NO dried fruit. Yep! NO DRIED FRUIT, I got everything else but not one currant, raisin or sultana, as a certain person says 'I dooo not believe it'!

So when I pick Tori up at 15.00 I will wend my way into Chippenham and try there... should have gone ther in the first place!!!!!!!!!!

I don't really need to go outside to get fresh air, because I have all the doors and windows wide open, its still sooooooo mild. Anyway deciding I needed the excercise I went down the garden to clean out the chickens, on the way down I nearly killed myself by slipping on the path where the chickens have been so out came the watering can and stiff broom for the path and the rake for the beds and grass, so the path amd the flowerbed went from this......

to this................

thats better now for the eglu..... the chickens are very good about bedtime and round about 17.00 hrs take themselves off to bed, I usually go and close up the Eglu about 18.00hrs. then open it in the morning between 07.00 and 07.30. So they spend a long time in the coop compared to the summer. This is what it looks like today bearing in mind it was cleaned out on Saturday

As you can see they have a favourite corner, it was funny to watch them take themselves to bed in the summer, Big Bird always goes in about 30 mins before everyone else, I think its so she can bags the best spot. Then later everyone else piles in, but they all stand on top of one another especially during the dark nights which is funny to see when you look in the egg hatch you can see abit of one, a tail of another, a head of another etc. Then when I close the door, you hear all this shuffling and clucks and oofs and gerroff and when you next open the egg hatch there in a nice neat line! Cracks me up!!!
Here it is all nice and clean takes less than 10 mins and all the poos go straight on my empty veg patch......

I'm glad I forgot to mow the lawn, I think if it was short it would look alot worse than this!!

I was just finishing this off and went to check the Rayburn, its gone out again!!!!!!!! Thats twice in 2 days. I must admit this coal is not burning as well as last years, we seem to be going through one heck of alot. Last year was quite hard coal and took a long time to burn through, this year its wooosh and then its gone. When we ordered, the coal merchant we used gets 'Welsh' coal not like the other local merchants who use 'Polish' imported coal. At least ours has less miles to travel!!! Only wish it would last longer!!!!!!!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Evening Sky

I have been out again with my camera, I love the sky at this time of year especailly in the early morning and again in the evening!

I took this one hanging out of the velux window in the attic at about 16.45, this is looking northwesterly. and this is out of the other window in the attic I am looking south westerly!

This one was taken from the same window at 17.10. Aren't the colours magnificent. I think what I like best is if I go and take another picture another night the colours will change again!

You couldn't see your hand in front of your face this morning because the fog was so thick. Kathryn was out with her friends last night and she had to drive back through it. Her first time in thick fog, she said it was quite scary! Now I'm not sure which is more scary driving in fog or this............................

Kathryn in her halloween outfit ready for a night out in Bristol!

Anyway she has returned to Uni today, she seems to have had a good mix of socialising and catching up with her friends here, as well as doing her Uni work! She was saying to me how much she enjoys her time at Uni and only realises how much she misses home when she got back here! Funnily enough I can understand that! Only about 7 weeks till she is home again!

Chimarni is currently eating us out of house and home and he hasn't even started the medication that will make him hungrey!!!!!!!!!!!!!

this is him in the sit position which he will do on command especially when he's hungry!

and here he is sunning himself ontop of the coal bunkers!