Monday, 30 November 2015

A productive morning

Thanks for your comments.....always welcome, it's lovely to read them.  Sarah (Fishcake_random) has solved the mystery of why I keep being mistaken for a blogger called Leisha (at least three times now, perhaps I ought to consider changing my name!  teehee).  Upon looking at Leisha's profile, the only thing she has listed is my blog (how flattering, thank you!), so I guess people automatically assume that I am Leisha, or this blog is hers.  So, just to finally clear up any confusion.....I am NOT Leisha, I am Sooze, and Her Indoors, Him Outdoors is MY blog.  I can't seem to find a blog for Leisha....I know she reads here, do you actually have a blog, Leisha?

I got up early and have had a productive morning so far.  Put washing on, did the washing up from last night's dinner (OH usually does it but was overcome by tiredness last night, having got in at 05.00 am from work yesterday morning and not had much sleep due to being woken up by next door's 3 noisy dogs barking their heads off, grrr!!  8 o'clock on a bloody Sunday morning and they didn't really attempt to shut them up, why are some people so bloody inconsiderate?).  I've prepared a big tub of muesli.....oats, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, sultanas, chopped dried apricots, chopped mixed nuts.  I was looking at all the supermarket ones yesterday, they all contain stuff I don't really want to eat, like wheat or barley flakes, sugar, or various preservatives and chemicals.  So easy to make my own, and just include what I like in it.

I've made a start on sorting out some unwanted stuff for the charity shop.....got a bagful of clothes so far.  Just stopped for a coffee and blog browse, then I'm going to turf out the kitchen cupboards and get rid of some unused mugs and other assorted crockery, glasses, pans etc. 

Making cauli, broccoli and blue cheese soup for lunch, and the first trayful of mince pies.....husband was dropping big hints earlier about how nice a mince pie would go down with his afternoon cuppa!  He's outside washing the car (must be its birthday, hehe) whilst the sun is shining.....rain and winds forecast again for this afternoon. 

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Random pictures

Welcome to Fishcake_random, who has just started following after thanking me for visiting her blog......some confusion here, as I hadn't actually done that!  I have now though, and you are welcome even if you did get here by accident!

Thought I'd post a few pics, seeing as I haven't posted any lately.  Things that I've made recently:-

I've done Limoncello for the first time.....it's dead simple, it's just vodka with thinly pared lemon rind steeped in it for a couple of weeks.  You then strain it and add sugar and water, keep stirring/shaking for a few days to dissolve the sugar, and apparently it's ready to drink after a couple of weeks.  Now, I'm not really a fan of vodka (I prefer gin), but I do like anything lemony and a few bloggers were making it and the simplicity of it appealed to me, so here it is:-





After stirring it this morning, I licked the spoon.....oh it's yum!  Have to say though it looks like a big, erm, urine specimen in that photo.....the colours in pics taken with my phone aren't very good, it's actually a much prettier lemony colour than that (thank goodness!  teehee).

I made a pie for lunch today, I'm experimenting with different sorts of flour as we're still doing low carb/wheat free as much as possible.  I used half and half gram flour/wholemeal spelt (spelt has less gluten than normal flour and is supposedly easier to digest), it made a perfectly decent pastry, although it cooks up quite dark.  Tasted nice though, and having eaten it about an hour ago, I have no bloating or other gut effects which I would have had it been ordinary flour.  The filling was kidney, smoked bacon, leek and mushroom, which I chopped and cooked lightly first, adding tomato puree, herbs and a little stock:-




We had it with French beans, peas and roasted Brussels sprouts, it was lovely.

This is my latest crochet throw, it's Lucy of Attic24's cozy stripe pattern done in random stripes of claret, navy and cream to match the decor in our lounge:-





I'm aiming to do 2 rows a day, more if my fingers and hands will let me.

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I was having trouble with constant pins & needles/numbness in the little and ring fingers and part of my right hand.  It's no better, so I went to the doctor this week....he says I've damaged the ulnar nerve, probably by banging my elbow, which has resulted in the nerve being 'stunned' (his words) all the way down to the tips of my fingers.  He says it will heal itself in time, but it heals very slowly.....at the rate of about 1cm a month!  So I'm looking at many months of this constant and sometimes painful irritation.  Oh well, could be worse I suppose....at least it's only damaged and not severed!  It does mean though that I can't crochet for very long periods....the action of keeping my arm bent makes the pins & needles unbearable quite quickly, I have to keep stopping and hanging my arm down straight and shaking my hand to get some feeling back into it.  

I see Scotland is once again in for some awful weather....it's windy, damp and cold here (that also makes my hand worse) but is not going to be anything like as bad as up North.  Hope everyone stays safe.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Anybody know?

We've been to Taunton today, it's our nearest large town/shopping centre, there were a few things we were after.  OH had given me some birthday money and I knew exactly what I wanted.....a new stick blender for soups (I've had my present one for several years, at least 5 or 6, which isn't bad considering it was a supermarket value one, but is now giving up the ghost), and a bag to keep my current crochet project in.  I got the blender, no luck on the bag though.

Now, I know exactly what I want.....a pretty fabric patchwork tote bag, quite wide (i.e. with a gusset), with short fabric handles.  Couldn't find one anywhere....I did see a couple with wooden handles, and some in PVC instead of fabric.  But that's not what I want, and I'm not getting something that is a compromise....I want what I want!

It occurred to me that some of you very talented ladies who do patchwork may well make and sell some of your wares, or you may know of people who do.  So does anyone know?  I like the idea of buying something handmade from a fellow blogger.

I've had a look on ebay and amazon.....plenty of bags, but again not really what I want - lots of zippered ones that look like weekend bags (too big, and I want an open topped one), or the wooden handled ones, or PVC.

We got a thermal curtain for the front door too....all our windows are double glazed, but the front (glass) door is only single glazed, so it lets the heat out and the cold in.  OH has just put it up, he's good like that :-)



Friday, 20 November 2015

Chilli cheese cornbread

Making this today, to go with our slow cooker chilli.  It's not completely GF, so isn't suitable for coeliacs (unless you substitute a GF flour, which I would have done except I haven't got any, other than some rice flour which i'm not really keen on, till I go shopping).  But it is certainly low in gluten and is a good substitute if you're craving some bread-type thing.

300g polenta
100g plain flour (or a GF flour)
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda, or baking powder if you have none
1 heaped tsp (or to taste) chilli powder or smoked paprika....I use paprika
Salt & pepper
A large handful grated strong Cheddar

Mix all these together in a large bowl.

300ml natural yogurt or buttermilk (if you have none, use all milk with lemon juice added to sour it, I've done this often)
150ml milk
1 egg

Whisk together well in a large jug, then pour into the dry mixture and quickly mix in together, just until it's all combined with no dry bits lurking.  If it's too dry or stiff, add a bit more milk.

Don't expect this to be like bread dough or cake mix - it isn't, it's much more liquid and loose.....think Yorkshire pudding batter.

Pour it into a greased and/or lined deep square/oblong tin (mine's about 9"x12" I think).  Bake in a medium hot oven for about 15 mins, take out and sprinkle over some extra grated cheese, put back in for another 15 or 20 mins, until it's well risen and feels firm and springy.

It's probably not like an authentic American cornbread, I adapted it from a British recipe I found online somewhere ages ago (sorry, can't remember where).  There are one or two other recipes I've tried occasionally, but I always come back to this one.....I've made it several times now and we really like it.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Pizza fail

Well, the GF pizza dough wasn't a success.  When I went to make it, I found I didn't have any gram flour left (note to self....write on shopping list when I run out of something!).  However, I did have a full bag of rice flour, plus opened bags of spelt and soya flours from previous GF baking attempts (yes I know the spelt flour isn't GF, but does have less gluten than normal wheat flour), so I decided to use a mix of all three.  Just winging it really, I used a total of about 400g of the 3 flours and grated into it about 175g very cold lard.  Rubbed it in, then added tsp salt and 2 tsp mixed herbs.  Mixed in some natural yogurt and water, until it all came together, gave it a quick knead in the bowl, put it in the fridge for 30 mins to rest.  Then I half rolled, half patted it out on a sheet of greaseproof paper cut to the size of the baking tray.  Baked it for 15 mins, before leaving it to cool slightly prior to adding the toppings.

Whilst it was pre-cooking, I did notice it had quite a strong, slightly sour smell, but as it's been ages since I used any GF flours I couldn't remember if that was normal. 

The topped and baked pizza did look nice, it even cut quite well although was a bit crumbly (as I expected)....definitely a knife and fork job, it wouldn't hold together enough to pick it up with your hands, the pastry was too fragile and crumbly for that. 

But the taste.....it wasn't good at all, a strange sour and bitter taste.  On reflection, I reckon it was the soya flour, I think it had gone off/rancid (I'd thrown the packet away so don't know what the use by date was....the rice and spelt flours were in date and smelt fine in the packets).  We scraped the (lovely) topping off and chucked the base into the recycling bin.  Oh well, that'll teach me not to smell things first before using them!

I shan't be defeated though, I'll buy some more gram flour when we next go shopping and have another go. 

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Wind and fingers being a pain

Phew, it's windy out there!!  Been in the front garden for just half an hour, and I feel like I've been sandblasted in a wind tunnel.  At least it's sunny, dry and not cold at all.....in fact, I was wearing a fleece sweatshirt and was actually sweating in it (you really wanted to know that, didn't you).  Sorted out the tubs, got rid of the petunias that have been in them since Spring.....they're still actually flowering, although dying off now of course, it's been so mild here.  Put in Spring bulbs (I know, a bit overdue, they should have gone in a month ago but the petunias were still looking so nice) and winter-flowering pansies.  Got more bulbs to put in the wall baskets, but the wind has defeated me for today, they'll have to wait another couple of days.

Plus I'm having a lot of trouble with my right fingers and hand.  For a fortnight now I've had really bad - and constant, it hasn't let up at all - pins and needles in the little and ring fingers, down the side of my hand and an inch or so in from there on both the palm and back of my hand.  Sometimes, my little finger in particular goes white and numb - it's generally like that in the morning when I get up.  Cold and wind makes it worse, as does having my arm bent - which is most of the time really.  Which means I can only sit and crochet for a few minutes at a time, the pins and needles become unbearable after that, I have to then sit with my arm out straight for a while.  Having googled, I think it may be a trapped ulnar nerve....similar thing to carpal tunnel, only that affects the thumb, forefinger and middle finger.  Going to the GP on Monday morning, I hope he can do something for it, it's driving me crackers.

Having been wheat-free and low carb for about a month now, I'm feeling so much better.....weight loss has stayed at 12 lbs (bit of a plateau, I expect it will start to go down again soon) but the bloating and stomach upsets have gone.  However, for some reason today I really fancy a pizza!  I'm going to have a go at making the dough with gram flour, inspired by Pam and Dc's recent experiments.  Ok, so the dough won't be particularly low carb, but it's not like I'm going to eat a whole pizza! (although I probably could - and would - have done in a previous life).  Got some veggies that are looking past their best, so will roast them and use them as the topping, along with some homegrown tomato sauce....and cheese, of course.  Will make a coleslaw to go with it, and some of our lightly pickled cucumbers. 

Thanks for all your comments on my boo to Christmas post....I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels that way!

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Bah humbug to Christmas

Welcome to my new followers lisamaywalters and Monalisa, and thank you for the comments on my carnival pictures, we had a fantastic time.

OH and I don't really 'do' Christmas - we have no children ourselves, OH's children and grandchildren are all grown up, we have no relatives living near us (they're all scattered around the country), we're not religious at all although half of both our families are and don't celebrate Christmas (and I'm not getting into any religious discussions whatsoever!).  Plus OH normally only has Christmas day itself off work, although, unusually, he's also got Xmas Eve off this year.  And I absolutely loathe all the commercialism of it....the pressure the media and shops put people under to spend vast amounts of money - completely unnecessarily in my view - is disgusting, I think.  I loathe all the charity begging letters that drop through our letterbox at this time of year (why can't they just stop sending out all those unwanted and unasked for pens, cards, coasters, gift tags etc that just get dumped in the recycling and save themselves a load of money?!).  I hate being accosted by charity collectors outside the supermarket, or every time we set foot in the high street....for the record, we do give to charities of our choice, and in the way we choose, not to bloody tin rattlers trying to make us feel guilty.

I sound a right miserable old cow, don't I?!

Well I'm not, I just don't agree with it all.  To those of you who do (most of you, I expect).....good on you, that's your choice and I hope you all have a lovely time.

We don't have turkey, for the simple reason that we don't really like it.  I don't make a Christmas cake, as I'm diabetic so hardly eat it, plus OH doesn't like marzipan and icing.  We don't give each other Christmas presents....what for?  We have everything we need at our (relatively!) advanced ages lol.  And if there's something we want, well we go and buy it (assuming we have the money).  We send OH's grandchildren money (although I don't know how long we'll keep that up, seeing as OH will be retiring soon and his grandchildren will soon - if they don't already - be earning more than he does).  We don't give presents to the rest of the family.....we stopped that by mutual agreement some years ago.  We don't even send Christmas cards - a long time ago we decided that the money would be better put to good use being donated to charity, so that's what we do instead.

We just view it as an opportunity to spend time together, eating some nice food (I do make a bit of an effort!), watching a few good programmes on TV - there's usually something decent to watch - and even going for a nice walk on the beach if the weather's ok.  It's surprising how many people do actually go out for a walk on Christmas day, and the ones you meet are always so friendly, smiley and happy (full of booze and mince pies probably hehe).

I do make mince pies, because OH loves them.....I make the mincemeat (will be doing that this weekend, following my usual Saint Delia's recipe) and make a few dozen pies, freezing them and getting out a few at a time.  We have a drink or two (not a lot more than that, seeing as OH has to go to work the next day!), I've made raspberry gin, raspberry & honey whisky and limoncello, which should all be ready to drink around then.

And that's about it for Christmas.....by that time of year, I'm totally fed up with it all and champing at the bit for winter to be over and Spring to arrive.

Oh, there is one thing I do like about Christmas......I absolutely love Christmas songs - carols, pop songs, choirs, you name it.  So I'm not totally bah humbug ;-)



Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Carnival

Warning!  This post is pic heavy!  (Changed browsers and managed to solve the problem of pics not posting).

Every year there's a huge street carnival in Somerset, it easily rivals the Notting Hill or Brazilian ones (but with less trouble!!).  It starts off in Bridgwater, they have the biggest and longest one there, plus a special kind of firework display called squibbing at the end....the carnival procession starts at 7 pm and finishes up with the squibbing around midnight or later.  Over the next fortnight the carnival plays in several other towns....Burnham on Sea, Glastonbury, Weston super Mare, North Petherton, Shepton Mallet, maybe a couple more that I can't remember.  We've been every year since our friends first took us about 8 years ago, I absolutely love it.

This year we didn't go to the Bridgwater one where we usually go (held last Saturday) as we were spending the weekend staying with our friends, so we decided to go to the Burnham one.  It was fabulous, as always.....shorter with fewer carts (the big floats are called carts down here), but that's not such a bad thing as standing still on a pavement for several hours gives me backache!  Well, I wasn't exactly standing still, the really loud music and the whole feel-good spectacle just makes you want to dance....well, it does me anyway!

As well as the big carts (which take each individual carnival club a whole year to plan, build and decorate, as well as making costumes for the performers and learning a new dance routine for the moving ones), there are groups of dancers (mostly children), plus walking performers.  All money raised on the night (it's free to watch, but donations are actively encouraged) goes to local charities.

Some of the dancing children:-



Walking performers:-


The large carts are divided into 2 categories - on the majority, the performers all sing and dance to a set routine and theme....the others, which are called tableaux carts, have a theme and music but the performers all stay still, some of them standing, others sitting, lying down or even hanging off parts of the set! (depending on their theme).  These are some of the tableaux carts:-


My favourites, the big singing and dancing ones:-






Just after this last one passed us, they had a power cut and their music and all their lights went off!  Did feel sorry for them, but their engineers managed to get it all working again within a few minutes:-

It was a brilliant night, as always.  If you're ever down in Somerset in November, try and get to see one of them.....it's an annual event.



Grrr!

Well, I was going to post a load of pictures today, only I can't.  I recently downloaded and installed Win10 (well, to be completely truthful, OH's son in law did it for me!) and now I cannot post pictures.  I can get the box, click on upload, find the pic and load it.....but then when I click to select and add it, it won't!!  And I can't even close the Insert Image window, it just won't let me, I have to close down all windows to get out of it.

Sometimes, I just loathe technology *runs around screaming and stamping feet*

Any ideas? (in words of one syllable suitable for a blonde menopausal technophobe please!).  Has anyone else had this problem?

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Exploding breakfast

We're having a lazy morning.....OH is still in bed after his night shift, he got in a bit earlier than normal this morning, around 03.45, and plans on getting up about 10.00.  Got a bit of shopping to do when he's up and ready, then we're off to stay overnight with our friends later on.

I was sitting here quietly reading the paper online about half an hour ago, when there was this almighty great bang coming from the kitchen....I went to have a look, thinking it was probably a bird (albeit a large one) having crashed into the window (they do that quite often, kamikaze birds round here, although it usually happens when it's sunny and the birds are dazzled by the sunshine and can't see the window, not when it's hurling it down with rain like it is right now).

Looked out of the window - nope, no imprint on the window (they leave a perfect imprint of their shape on the glass) and no dazed bird on the grass outside.  Then I noticed it, on the table, the reason for the bang.  I'd bought a can of those Jus-Rol bake at home croissants the other day, it was on its sell by date and reduced to 45p, never tried them before but thought might as well at that price (although how they get 6 croissants in such a small can is beyond me ;-) hehe).  Well, it had exploded open, with dough bursting out like, well, yeasty dough left to prove in a too-small bowl.

I guess we'll be having croissants for brunch then, with ham and Swiss cheese....yum.  Well, it was my birthday yesterday after all, so a carby yeasty treat is allowed :-))

Thank you for all your lovely comments yesterday.....I'm over the attack of the maudlin miseries.





Friday, 6 November 2015

Reflective

Thanks for all your comments on my menu and eating plan, I am still doing it and feel happy to continue with it indefinitely, as I feel so much better on it.

It's my birthday today, I'm getting ever nearer the dreaded *whispers it* 60 and wish I could turn back time.....or at least make it stand still.  I can't quite believe I've reached the age of 56, it just doesn't seem possible, I feel perpetually 39 (if only!).

A very dear school friend died of leukemia when we were 17, my cousin died at age 19, my beloved Nan who I adored died aged 62 and OH's dad, who was more of a father to me than mine ever was, was 61 when he died.  Over the past year or two we've had several other deaths amongst our family and friends, it's been a bad and sad time.

All this reminds me of my own mortality, particularly since I have a disease/illness that could shorten my life anyway.  Birthdays are not something that I really look forward to nowadays....other than being grateful that I've had another year on this planet, something that many don't.

Sorry to be so morbid, it won't last!

Sunday, 1 November 2015

My eating plan

I'm doing very well on this low carb/no wheat plan, I'm feeling so much better in every way, and the weight loss is a welcome bonus.  I've been a yo-yo dieter my entire life.....start off ok on various weight loss diets (Slimming World, WW, Atkins, F-Plan, Rosemary Conley, Harcombe, 5:2 - you name it, I've tried it), but after a few weeks (few days in some cases) I get totally fed up with it and hurl myself off the wagon.  Somehow, my outlook this time has changed.....I'm actually enjoying eating this way and am happy to carry on indefinitely.  I think it's possibly to do with the fact that I'd really begun to feel very unwell indeed, with almost constant bloating, indigestion, stomach upsets, bowel completely out of kilter, aching joints, tired all the time.  I've always firmly believed that the way we eat has a massive effect on our health, so knew it was time to do something about it.  And, more importantly, to stick to it.

I'm not following any commercial or 'proper' diet, I'm just being very sensible and cutting out all the things that I know affect my health.  Luckily, OH is happy to go along with whatever I choose (well, he wouldn't get fed otherwise teehee), with the addition of some carbs for him.

Here's what I've eaten the past 3 days, just to give you an idea:-

Thurs
Breakfast - Greek full fat yogurt
Lunch - GF sausages (89% meat), mashed swede, buttered savoy cabbage and broccoli, GF gravy
Tea - A chunk of Cheddar, an apple and handful of almonds

Fri
Breakfast - yogurt
Lunch - Coconut prawn curry,  Brussel sprouts (OH had rice with his)
Tea - Chunk of Red Leicester, apple and almonds

Sat
Breakfast - yogurt
Lunch - Grilled bacon, scrambled eggs with cream cheese added, a whole tin of tomatoes (OH had chips and beans instead of toms)
Tea - Tinned tuna and grated cheese with salad leaves and cucumber and a dollop of mayo, followed by an apple

I have 1 coffee and 1 tea per day, both with milk but no sugar, the rest of the time I drink water

So you can see I'm not starving myself, not feeling hungry at all, and am having a varied diet with plenty of protein, veg and fat.  I'm not one of those who runs shrieking at the mention of butter or cheese!  Nor do I think that eating sausages or bacon once a week is going to kill me anytime soon.

Had no breakfast today (got up late and didn't fancy anything), had cheese and apple for lunch.  Having pork chops for dinner, which husband is cooking.....no roast spuds (and oddly I don't even want them!), he's doing roasted butternut squash, courgette and sprouts with it.