Monday, 29 February 2016

What’s lurking in the Cupboard?

I expect we are all guilty at times, of going food shopping and not checking what we already have, then when we get home there’s already loads of this, that and the other that we’d bought weeks ago. Then there’s the forgotten jar at the back of the cupboard, things that have worked their way to the bottom of the freezer, the item bought for a recipe and used only once, the out of date packet of something, I could go on. We are definitely guilty of all of the above and have decided to do something about it. The prompt for us was the freezer full of last years garden produce, which if we didn’t eat would be smothered by this year’s crops. So since 1st January, we set ourselves a minimal budget, will only be buying what we need and will be eating our way through the freezer and the cupboard. To keep track of the spending, Roger has made me a super-duper spreadsheet, which might seem a bit over the top, but when you see what you’ve spent written down, it keeps you focused. It’s amazing how all those little trips to the supermarket add up. So how are we doing 2 months in?? Well pretty good. Our spend was just under 200€/£160 for Jan and Feb, so very pleased with that. That equates to around 25€/£20 per week. I’ll keep you posted on how we are doing at the end of each month.

One of our to use up items, were two pots of yeast which were 5 months out of date, but I was sure that they would still be active. I then needed to see if I could use the yeast with plain flour and yes, it works, but needed a bit more kneading than strong bread flour. The bread came out a little bit heavier but had a lovely crusty crust, fantastic with butter. Using plain flour also keeps the cost down and I worked out that the loaf cost us about 50€/40p. Happy with that.

Bread 1
Bread 2

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

We found a Date….

…. but sadly not from the 70’s magazine, but from pages from a newspaper called Le Provencal dated Monday 17th December 1979. The newspaper from Marseille was originally called La Jeune République and was first printed in 1873. The name was then changed to Le Petit Provençal then to Le Provençal and it changed again in 1997 to  La Provence. Racking my brains, I tried to remember what I was doing in 1979. I was 19, had started a computer course so I could get a better job, flew for the first time to Canada with my future husband and his family, even though I didn’t know he would be then and saw Led Zeppelin at Knebworth. The photo below of me and my sisters was taken in the 70’s but I don’t what year. I love this photo, great smiles and a nice range of 70’s fashions, flares, maxi skirt and dress plus clogs What were you doing in 1979??

Girlies 2

Me and my sisters – Natalie, Sheryl and Me.

Newspaper 1
Newspaper 2

A night at the Opera.

Newspaper 3

Or a new car for 804f per month.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Drop Scones

To me these are just tiny pancakes and because you can prepare the mix in advance, they are perfect for a quick lunch or tea. I’ve also made a cheesy version but the sweet ones were a favourite with Roger.

Drop Scones 2

Nice and golden.

Drop Scones 3

Smothered with blackberry jelly.

Ingredients Method

250g self-raising flour

Pinch of baking powder

Pinch of sea salt

25g caster sugar

2 eggs

275ml milk

Put flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl and mix in the sugar. Make a well in the centre and add the eggs. Pour in the milk and whisk until you have a thick batter.

Put a small amount of sunflower oil into a frying pan or griddle and heat gently.

Using a tablespoon, add drops of the batter to the pan and cook for a couple of minutes. Flip over and cook for another minute. Serve with jam, lemon and sugar, choc spread, maple syrup or whatever you have.

The cooked drop scones can be kept warm on a plate covered with a clean tea towel if needed.

Note – the drop scones can burn easily so cook gently and add more oil if needed.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Haute Couture

When we took the plasterboard down in bed 1, we found three different styles of wallpaper, some old newspaper and a magazine which had been screwed up and used to stop the draughts coming through, but sadly and frustratingly there was no date to be found. But judging by the outfits I think the magazine dates from the 1970’s, flared trousers and maxi dresses were all the rage then. I remember wearing these styles, did you?
Old Magazine 1
Old Magazine 2
Old Magazine 3

Saturday, 13 February 2016


Roger had a bit of set-to with the wood burner on Thursday. He tripped over a cable in the kitchen and to stop his fall, grabbed the wood burner which was roaring away and this was the result – burnt fingertips and burnt side of his palm. You might have heard the expletives where you live. Apart from the frustration of a painful, blistered and sore hand he’s also fed-up because he can’t get on with upstairs. But nursy (that’s me) has told him he mustn’t risk bursting them and getting an infection, so only light duties for Roger.

Rogers Hand

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Meanwhile, Roger has been …..

…. putting in electrics, pulling walls down, moving doors and putting walls back up, just a few of the tasks that need doing and with the weather looking rubbish for the next couple of weeks, so there’s no temptation to get into the garden, so work will continue inside. We’ve removed the rest of the plasterboard from bed 1, ready for new plasterboard to go up, but this time with insulation behind. An en-suite will be going into bed 1 but we needed to pinch some extra space from somewhere, so we are pinching it from our landing. It’s a lovely area but just a bit too big and a space that doesn’t get used, so the old wall has come down ready for the new one to go up further over. It will still be big enough for maybe a chair, a bookcase or something else. The plus side of all this tearing apart is we have loads of wood for the fire but the negative is more dust and trips to the tip but I wondered, is our house lighter than when we started??
Bed 3
New wall up between bed 1 and bed 3.

Bed 1 3
More plasterboard coming down or maybe a little door for me.

Bed 1 5
You can see the other half of the beam still to sand.

Bed 1 9
The Center Pin.

Bed 1 1
Removing the dark cladding between the landing and bed 1.

Bed 1 2
And now the pasterboard.

Bed 1 3
It’s gone.

Bed 1 4
Slightly more open plan but new walls will be put up soon.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

A Bit of an Experiment

Still playing with the dehydrator and I thought to myself, could I dehydrate already frozen fruit?? I’ve got bags of plums and figs in the freezer, so decided to get out one of each, defrost, drain off as much liquid as possible and give it a go. Because I’d already chopped them ready for a pud, the pieces were a bit small for the trays and kept dropping through the holes, but after 8 hours they were done. I’m looking forward to having a go at using whole fruit next time. The pieces came out nice and chewy and were perfect sprinkled on top of yoghurt.

Figs and Plums

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Going, Going, Gone

The new wall is now up between our bedroom and bed 3, so I’ve been able to pull off the old plasterboard and plaster from two of our bedroom walls, a job I’ve been itching to do. The old plaster was very crumbly so came off fairly easily, but I did need some help pulling down the heavy plasterboard and the wooden batoning. Here are a series of photos showing the stone being revealed.

Bed 1 1
Bed 1 2
Bed 1 4
Bed 1 6
Bed 1 7
Bed 1 8
Bed 1 10
Bed 1 11

Monday, 1 February 2016

What a Pong

If only we had scratch and sniff screens, then you would be able to smell the pong left behind after dehydrating a few onions. Peeling and chopping them is bad enough, but this was eye watering on another level. The window and door of the utility room has been open for 2 days and it still pongs but on a positive note, the onions look great after 10 hours of drying. I had a nibble of one piece and the flavour was so intense, the drying had really concentrated the flavour. They will be great as a perfect standby to add to a soup or pasta sauce. But, if I do these again, the dehydrator is being relegated to the garden.

Onions 1
Onions 2