Monday, 28 September 2009
Saturday, 19 September 2009
So how do you test them for 'doneness'? Best not to stick a fork in them. Put on a pair of rubber gloves (the washing up sort) to protect your fingers from the heat. fish one out with a straining spoon and gently squeeze it. In a similar way to testing avocados for ripeness, you will be able to tell by the 'give' as you squeeze - be gentle, mind. Or carefully try and remove a lttle peel. Beetroots which are done will easily slip their skins.
So, now they're done comes the messy bit. You have to remove the outer skin and this is easiest to do by removing the remaining leaf stalks - just lop them off with a little disc of the beetroot. Now slide the skins off - easest done if you let the beetroots cool a bit first. I find they shrink away from the skins a bit this way. Finally, cut off the root.
And there you have the fabbest little beetroot you ever did see.
Do as you like with them now. Left whole and individually wrapped in cling film they freeze well. Slice them and almost cover them in malt vinegar (see? malt vinegar again!), cut them in cubes, mix with grated horseradish, chopped capers and good mayo and eat with smoked fish.
Me? I like them with vinegar and I can eat them in vast quantities. Keith can too, but a cautionary tale: do not forget that you've been OD-ing on beetroot. Keith came out of the loo looking very worried the other day, he was peeing pink - HA! I did try not to laugh!!!! I did --splutter, splutter.
Friday, 18 September 2009
There's been all the form-filling of course for himself's pensions. I think - I HOPE - I've got that sorted now. You would think it was Christmas or something with Keith marking the days off to his retirement in his diary. I've never known anyone so looking forward to that milestone!
Monday, 14 September 2009
Bear this in mind - it's Keith who's retiring, not me. He goes blissfully off to work while I sort it all out for him.
I never knew you have to apply for your state pension. Did you know that? I never did. But you do. What happens is they write to you 4 months before, inviting you to apply for your pension. So the day after the letter arrived I rang them up.
"No no no, " they said, "TWO months dear, TWO."
"But the letter said........"
"Yes but we've changed the rules."
"So why send the letter now, then?"
"We've changed the rules. Ring at the end of August."
So I did but "I can only discus this with MR Marshall," Ahhh-HA, I'd already thought of that and Keith was already waiting to give them permission to deal with me. So he did, and they did. But, you see, he could have been anyone, couldn't he? I might have got the milkman to pop in for a minute, or the window cleaner! I might have even put on a gruff voice and talked through my hanky. Anyway, I told them what they wanted to know and they told me how much pension he would get and said a letter called "A Decision on your Claim" would arrive soon. It did. Cue the first form to send back.
Then the Inland Revenue sent a big fat letter which, after I'd read it through a few times, seemed to be saying that the Dept Works & Pensions letter had, in fact, told the truth. Mind you, what it Seemed to be saying was that they would be taking away £22.58 each week. Heart stopping moment there!
In the same post came a fat letter from a firm Keith was with for a few years a long time ago. They said they would pay about £1600 a year. Cue next form to send back. Their form wanted to know details of all other pensions Keith had, or would have. In fact they seemed to want to know rather a lot so I rang them to ask what business it was of theirs and that was when I first heard the term "Lifetime Allowance". It's a government thing said the voice on the phone. It's a government requirement and all your other pension providers will want this same information. To this minute I haven't a clue what a "Lifetime Allowance" is but - out with all the paperwork again and away with their form.
Left to his own devices Keith wouldn't have known where to start. All he wants to know between now and October 26th is how much is going in the bank and when but your guess is as good as mine what other personal information we shall have to divulge and to whom to get it.
Form-filling is a fact of life - we all know that - but for goodness sake WHATEVER HAPPENED TO PLAIN ENGLISH?
This is to inform you that I shall not, after all, be requiring a numbered Swiss bank account.
Thursday, 10 September 2009
Well, I've just been catching up with Marie who has decided to come clean about her weight problem. Let's tell it like it is - her fatness! She mentions that I have (willingly, I should add) been her partner in crime on her "Down Down Down" blog, which you can find here
I've been just like Marie - tried every trick in the book to lose weight and, despite seeming to lose loads, ultimately fail by putting it all back on again plus some more. That's because your average 'diet' has a start date and a stop date and in between you're so concerned with following the diet that you never actually teach your body anything about the life changes you need to make.
Like Marie, I've tried all sorts : Slimming Magazine, Slimming World, Weightwatchers, calorie counting by myself. I must say I was horrified to hear she had been on the verge of signing up for a Gastric Band. Remember this is the very same Marie who buoys us all up every single day with every little word she writes on her blogs, with her wonderful recipes, with her drawings and paintings; the Marie who exudes a natural joie de vivre through every pore, who has a genuine love and caring for her fellows. The only person I know who unconditionally 'gives til it hurts', who puts everyone before herself. THIS Marie, our Marie, has shared with us her inmost feelings and I'm so proud of her.
I haven't actually been to a hypnotherapist; I just don't have the money. What I have done is invested in a little book by Paul McKenna (yes, he of stage hypnosis fame) called "I Can Make You Thin" which came with a CD to support it. I must confess to having thought "yeah yeah" and written off the book as a load of mumbo-jumbo before it even came through the door. I read it though, seeing as I'd paid for it! Despite myself, I found myself believing what he said and now - no agonising- I am continuing to lose weight and not paying out a fortune every week to do it. It's not a 'diet', I don't count any calories or points or syns. I only eat when I feel hungry and I stop when I'm not hungry any more. Recognising those two points was the only difficut thing.
I wouldn't profess to have all the answers. Nor, I suspect, would Marie. What I have got is something I can live with quite happily for life. Oh, and a trick or two ............
Today, for example, I'm wearing a skirt which was last comfortable about 4 years ago. It's just not quite fastenable but sitting in my wheelchair it's not going to fall down! My T-shirt hides the button at the top which I can't do up and it's just tight enough so I think "Hmm, need to lose a few pounds...". All it does is make me examine my motives for eating...whatever might be on offer.
Good on you Marie. Keep it up girl, I'm rooting for you.
Sunday, 6 September 2009
Cheez Whizz used to be a big favourite of mine when I was a kid. Between 2 slices of fresh white bread - the quickest sandwich ever! Thickly spread on hot buttered (yes, buttered ) toast - heavenly. Then all of a sudden it was gone, sunk without trace. A few years ago it resurfaced but, as with most things, was not quite how I remembered. Still, I bought it though, only to find it snatched away again. Maybe you can still get it but I don't know where. Supermarkets do have their own brands but to lovers of the real thing these are pale imitations. BRING BACK CHEEZ WHIZZ.
Mimuther also used to get a product called Frizettes. They were a powder that you mixed with water to form a batter, then you dropped spoonsful into hot fat to make little fritters. Oh, wow! A breakfast fry-up was not complete in our house without them. Actually we didn't often have fry-ups (or should that be frys-up?) at breakfast time but we did every Thursday tea time. Thursday was pay day on the steelworks so tea was always a lavish affair with fried bacon, sausages, eggs, baked beans, black pudding (yeuk!), fried bread .....and Frizettes. Can't you just hear our arteries furring up! But did we care? We did not. BRING BACK FRIZETTES.
In continuation of the Thursday pay day celebrations one of us kids was sent down to the shop for 5 assorted cream cakes. I was always first volunteer for this job! The reason was that the 'cream' cakes I chose.........weren't. They used to keep them, uncovered, in the shop window and they contained Confectioners' Cream and I loved it. I would love it today too if I could get any. There used to be a bakery in town where you could buy it in bucket-loads but they closed down years ago and now...............! I do like fresh cream cakes but I love confectioners' cream ones. BRING BACK CONFECTIONERS' CREAM.
Mimuther was ever a creature of habit, She has always had certain days for doing certain things, even now. She didn't go to Church and Sunday morning was devoted to doing the washing. The roast would be in the oven and there would be heaps of meticulously sorted washing ready for doing. On Monday she spent the day getting it all dried and ironed - no mean feat when the weather was bad and there were no electric dryers. So Mondays we would have banana sandwiches for tea. Tuesdays she usually still had ironing to do and greeting us when we got home from school would be boiled eggs and bread soldiers, thickly buttered. White Shelled Eggs. We always had white shelled eggs. Brown ones, when they were to be had, cost more but just occasionally there would be the odd brown one among the white. Mimuther had to have that one because it didn't have a 'proper' shell. So she said anyway! It's the white ones that are rare now and all we get are brown. They don't really taste any different, I think it all depends how the hens are fed or something, but there was something about white eggs that brown ones can't replicate. BRING BACK WHITE EGGS.
Finally for now, who can remember Double Diamond beer? Hands up. "##...a Double Diamond works wonders, works wonders, works wonders...##" to the tune of "There's a Hole in my Bucket" (very apt when you think of the shape of a beer glass). It's all Keith used to drink in the 70's. "Pint of DD please..". I haven't seen any for years and the poor man is having to make do with Carling. So for his sake, please BRING BACK DOUBLE DIAMOND .
Well, the roast is done, veggies almost, roasties just want turning and gravy making and it'll be lunchtime. Guess whose name is down for those jobs?
See you soon,
Wednesday, 2 September 2009
Talking yesterday about starting school got me to thinking about some of the games we used to play, specially in the playground. One I didn't like much was "Pinch or Punch" and yes, it was painful! Two kids would join hands and swoop across the playground to catch some poor unsuspecting in the centre of their linked hands and recite "A pinch or a punch or join in the bunch, or tell us your sweetheart's name, or a penny stamp". If he had any sense at all the poor victim would say "Join in the bunch" and he would make the circle a bit bigger by joining the other two. This would go on with an ever increasing circle swooping on more and more kids who hadn't the sense to run for cover! The game ended when either every kid in the playground was in the circle or the bell went for classes..
Skipping was much in evidence in the 50's. It must have been for decades before too because my mum was brilliant at it. She was always so light on her feet. I on the other hand had no 'bounce' in me so I didn't bother. Any old length of rope would do or a bit of washing line. . Someone could usually be relied on to have purloined the whole washing line on the way down the garden path in the morning so there would be a girl at each end (boys didn't skip) who were 'turners', a chant was decided upon and any girl who wanted to have a skip formed an orderley queue. Girls #1 and 2 would start off as the turners turned the rope and everybody chanted "Nanny in the kitchen, Doin' a bit of stitchin', In came a bogey man and pushed nanny OUT" and the next girl in line would jump into the turning rope, shove #1 out and continue . . Great fun I'm sure..
Girls never minded showing their knickers in those days and there was no such thing as the perv at the school gates so doing handstands against the staff-room wall was quite OK. Two Ball was another favourite, and a way of putting to good use those tennis balls that would otherwise have joined the racquets in the cupboard under the satairs once Wimbledon fortnight was over. It was sort of juggling but you 'juggled' your two tennis balls against a wall.
We were quite inventive playing at home too, so the odd rainy day didn't matter. Most little boys had a cowboy outfit, including a toy gun which it never occurred to anyone might corrupt them. here's many a family goldfish bit the dust several times a day during school holidays. The chair arms became horses which could put Trigger to shame, they could run so fast!. Lone Ranger masks and silver bullets abounded.
When mum wasn't using the clothes horse, a wooden frame that she would put laundry either to dry on a wet day or to 'air' after ironing, it became a tent when we covered it with an old grey army blanket and we played at camping. Or it might become a Tepee and be where Tonto lived with Hiawatha (Yep!) until the Lone Ranger would come nodding along on Silver (suspiciously like the yard brush) and off they would go on some errand of mercy. Poor Tonto always had to take his shoes off before he got on his yard brush because of course Tonto's horse didn't have shoes. Oh I am sorry if anyone is finding all this a bit too non-PC,, but it's how it was
The Furniture in our house. being quite old and big lent itself perfectly to being hid behind, under or in as we played hide and seek. We didn't always play nicely. There was sbling rivalry along the lines of "I hate our Ken, he won't let me have a go on Silver...". Mum would put up with this bickering for so long then confiscate the yard brush saying "For goodness sake, it's a white thoroughbred, not a seaside donkey!" So even she was carried along by it really!
Mothers and Fathers, Dressing Up, Schools, Lady Baby Gypsy Queen, - all good fun and there were many more. Books and comics to read, things to learn, people to talk to - and no daytime telly or videos or DVD's or computers and not many telephones. Happy days!
YAY! I'm in the right place!
Tuesday, 1 September 2009
Yesterday was the last Bank Holiday we get in England until Christmas. Here in North Lincolnshire, like everywhere else, we try to make the most of it and go somewhere or do something. Keith and I were going to go to Epworth Show, which is about the last of the country shows around here. It's mainly agricultural - pigs, cows, sheep, horses, farm machinery and so on - but it's also one of the few shows which still has prize competitions for flowers, vegetables, baking, wine making, jam making. We love wandering around these when the judging is complete to see who's won. It always seems to be the same people every year (perhaps because it's the same people who enter every year), you get to recognise the names. On my "to do" list is now to enter Epworth's Victoria Sandwich Cake competition (under Jam and Jerusalem rules)and see if I might dislodge anyone.
Actually, some of you might have heard of Epworth. It's a small market town famous as the birthplace of brothers John and Charles Wesley, the founders of Methodism. The Wesleys had a huge influence on English 18th century life. John was not only a preacher and writer but was active in many social spheres ranging from prisons to slavery. His brother Charles was the greatest and most prolific of the English hymn writers and many of his 7000 works are still popular today.