Thursday, 30 September 2010

But I'm Still Here....

Yes, I am.  I may have been hawked off to the hospital for a few days but here I am again, still stuffing my face with "poorly grapes" while the "poorly chocolate" sits in the fridge waiting my attention when I'm on my own!

There was a lovely surprise waiting when I got home.

It was HUGE!

Such stuff as it had in it!  Cereal bowls, toast rack, tea pot, mugs,jug, boxes of breakfast cereal .................... and even the enormous wicker basket you see here!

And all of this was my prize in Marie's giveaway over  here 

Thanks Marie - I wouldn't like to have been the delivery woman but it was a delightful thing to come home to.

Just a quick aside:  has anybody else noticed Woman's capacity for reading absolutely anything when they're in hospital?  How, when someone goes home, the others swoop in like vultures on the pile of trashy magazines she left behind?

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

You showed me yours; I'll show you mine!!

Marie threw down the gauntlet by giving us a guided tour of her fridge, well one of them.  BOO HOO I wanted to see the other one, the one that didn't make the kitchen!

My fridge is in the kitchen and is quite huge.  It's by Hotpoint and has a freezer to match - funny name for a fridge and freezer HOTpoint....

Anyway, the fridge is the one with all the postcards and whatnot on it.

We got big things like these because, like Marie, I hate trying to squash stuff into your average under-the-counter fridge.   Unfortunately my big fridge tends to be the repository for all the bits and pieces that are started on but not finished.  I always hope they get found before they grow hairs on!

You can even tell who put what in there:  if I did it's covered up, Keith never covers anything.

Here goes then!!

 The inside of my fridge or, as it is sometimes known, the dark side of the moon!  Towards the top of the door is some butter and you can just see a little flash of red.  That's an almost used tube of tomato puree.  For shame I found its twin lurking in the veg box, right at the bottom;  I wondered where that had gone.

Beneath that is where the cheese gets stuffed in.  There's a small bit of reddish cheddar, some blue stilton that;s been there ages but Keith swears is lovely.  Oh well, it's his tum!  An unopened pack of feta which is well in date (I checked).  Next to that compartment, above the eggs, is an unopened mozzarella and some processed cheese slices, which are not bad if you put them in a sandwich with some raw onion and leave it a few hours before eating (OK, we're odd).

Below the eggs we see a couple of cartons of tomato juice and an opened Orange and Peach juice, a smoked sausage and a 4-pint carton of semi-skimmed milk.   There are some salad dressings in the bottom tray, some orange juice and an unopened 4-pints (looks like we need to have rice pudding this week).

The top shelf of the fridge proper contains a jar of 4-cheese pasta sauce, capers, cornichons, gherkins, very hot chilli pepper, a jar of mushroom salad, half a jar of lazy ginger, the same of lazy chilli, jars containing little dabs of jam, orange marmalade, ginger marmalade and that's not all.............

Next down is a bottle rack with  2 bottles white wine and half a bottle of slimline tpnic water (gone flat).

On the next shelf you can find 2 cans Spam, 2 cans of tuna in sunflower oil, a can of skinless boneless salmon, some more lazy ginger, redcurrant jelly.

Next up would be 2 lenon mousse and 2 gooseberry, more orange marmalade - a full jar this time.  In that white dish is 2 leftover potatoes and there's another white dish with a bit of buttcream.  Both will be chucke out eventually.  There were 2 x 6 eggs but I took them out for baking tomorrow.

See the 2 packs of Phili on the next shelf?  There was another hidden away at the  beck of the shelf above.  Then there's yet more jam and pickles.

Do you know what?  I can't go on!  I am totally mortified that my fridge is in such a state.  It's not mucky, just in a state.  If I could only reach those 3 top shelves.........

OK, now my challenge to you is to tell us what's in your fridge that's out of date and wants chucking!  Go on, I dare you.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

It was all Deutsch to me!

I've just been reading Ma Rainey's blog, "What's New at my House"  in which she speaks of "Oktoberfest", which, in common with anything else that might be fun, we don't 'do' over here (unless you happen to be a German ex-pat of course).  WHOA - somebody altered the points and sent me hurtling off down Memory Lane again............

"Kohlfahrt" literally translated means "cabbage-tour". Doesn't exactly help you much, does it? So here are some more details: Kohlfahrt-countryKohlfahrten (this is the plural) are only known in north west Germany, roughly as indicated by the red circle in this map. If you live around Oldenburg it is almost impossible not to go on one at some stage. Already not far southwest of Bremen some people have never been on a Kohlfahrt, although probably everyone knows what it is.
Kohlfahrten usually take place during January and February, preferably on a sunny and cold day. But I've also been on a Kohlfahrt where it rained the wholly day. So be prepared if you are ever invited to one...
You can only go on a Kohlfahrt if you are invited to one or if you organise one yourself. Usually you go with a group, be it your company or department, be it the football team you're in or just the people you studied with at university. It's not like the Octoberfest in Munich, where anybody can just turn up, put on Lederhosen and a silly hat and start drinking lots of beer.

I never imagined that having a German Foreign Language Assistant in the house for a year in the very early 80's would lead to a firm friendship that's still going strong today, 27 years later.  Heike's home was (and still is) Oldenburg, a city quite near Bremen in northern Germany, only these days she lives with her husband and almost grown-up son.  She has always loved England and first came here when she was 13 so she speaks our language very well.  In fact, in England she taught German, in Germany she teaches English.  My German isn't all that wonderful but it would be non-existent if it were not for Heike.  Well, her mum actually!

Her mum. bless her heart, speaks barely a word of English but, with my 'barely a word' of German and a bottle of good German wine she managed to teach me all sorts:  how to tell the time, how to say please and thank you, the rituals of 'coffee and cake', how to eat a smoked eel.  She did this in the same way as she would have taught her kids but not in a childISH way, more childLIKE..  Maybe that's where we're going wrong:  our kids have technology thrown at them when they might learn some things better if we talk to them.

When Heike lived with us we used to spend hours chattering about anything and everything.  There was no such thing as an early night!  She's also a very good cook and even signed herself up for a 10-week basic cooking course on a Thursday evening.  I have her collection of recipes still.  But the REAL great memory is KALE!

Now, it has become very fashionable all of a sudden to eat this beautiful brilliant green veg but back then, here in England, (well Scunthorpe at least) it was not to be had.  You just simply could not buy the stuff anywhere.  The reason was that, though we grew it here, it was only for feeding to the sheep!  So, unless you went foraging about in sheep troughs you'd have to make do with cabbage!  Not Heike.   She had been telling us about the Kale parties ('kohlfahrten', yet another ritual steeped in tradition) they had at home every winter and decided that we must hold Britain's first ever kale party in our little house in Scunthorpe.

She went home for the Christmas holiday and came back in early January.  How on earth she got through Hull docks customs with a car stuffed with bags and bags of kale, and with vac-packed bratwurst, pinkel sausage and smoked pork under the front seat I don't know!  Then 2 kilos of Jacobs coffee and a dozen bottles of wine in blatant full view of anyone who glanced in!   As soon as it came in the house, out had to come the food processor.  The kale is normally chopped quite small with a knife after it's been washed and picked over but if you had seen that lot you might have been forgiven for having nightmares.  We chopped it in batches in the food processor, finally burning out the motor I might add.  Every bowl and basin I had was filled with this strange green stuff.  Not to mention the bits that didn't make it that far - the counters and floor were covered too.

The next day was the designated party day so we rang round the other foreign language assistants and, in fact ended up with not only the first Kale Party, but a multinational one at that!  Apart from 6 English there were 2 Germans, a Swiss, 2 French and a Spaniard.

Next morning, Heike got started bright and early.  Into a huge pot (she brought one of those from Germany too, fortunately) went all the kale, half a bottle of white wine, a few bay leaves and juniper berries, salt and black peppercorns the whole pinkel sausages and a big piece of smoked pork. Then it went on the hob over a low light, lid on and it simmered slowly, slowly, for about 6 hours.  The sausages didn't disintegrate because they are specially for this purpose.  You don't eat the skins, just scrape the meat out of them.  The bratwurst were thrown into the pot about an hour before the end of cooking.  A huge pan of potatoes went on to boil and when they were done we were ready for off.

We fished out the smoked pork and sausages and sliced up the pork - difficult as...well how tender would you expect it to be after so long?   The kale (or some of it anyway) was piled onto the centre of a huge oval platter, with boiled potatoes at each end;  the sliced up pork was arranged at one side and a selection of whole sausages at the other.  Over the whole thing was ladled some of the liquor from the kale pot and to the table it went, where it was devoured with gusto!

There was no dessert - after that lot you couldn't have managed it - but copious quantities of German beer (you'd be amazed what contraband one VW Golf can hold) and wine were consumed.  And we ate and talked and laughed and ate some more and drank a little bit and then we chose our 'Kohl koenig', our Kale King, the one deemed to have eaten the most kale.  Guess who?  Keith!  Don't tell me he hasn't lived!  Well, it WAS his house!   He has his silver plastic Kohlkoenig pig  'medal' to this day.

Leftovers went back into the pot to be reheated next day.......and the next.....and the taste got better and better.  Finally we were down to the last little bit.  It got whizzed up in the food processor, I made some bread and we had the most delicious soup ever.

  After that we decided that the other nationalities were not getting off scot-free so one or other of them took over my kitchen one day a month and we all shared the fruits of their labours.  And just GUESS who got to do the cleaning up?  

I was supposed to be excused from doing any English delicacies as I was providing facilities but I did have a Yorkshire Pudding eating contest  at which English were excluded.   Well, they could eat but not compete.  It seems that Yorkshire puds and gravy are beloved by all who taste them.  We had to abandon the contest as everyone was having 'just one more'    and we lost count!

Happy days!

Monday, 13 September 2010

Monday 13th Sept - Happenings

Have you ever noticed how things HAPPEN just at the very time you can't deal with them?  Take this morning - please take this morning!A short  The postman arrived with a parcel, quite a big one and I couldn't do anything about it.  1) Keith was in the shower so he couldn't answer the door 2) I was in my wheelchair so I couldn't leap to the door, unlock it (where was the key anyway?), jump down the two steps, unlock the back gate and, all without letting the dog go walkies on her own, take delivery of the parcel.  Clutching a towel and his bathrobe to preserve decency Keith managed to hop out the other door - just in time to see the Royal Mail van disappearing down the street,  Fortunately they left the package by the back gate.  Fortunately it wasn't raining.

A short while later, himself took his leave to go out and buy a newspaper.  Now about this same time I just HAD to go to the loo. Had to.  But I just had this feeling - you know how you do? - that somebody or other would turn up whle I was in the bathroom.  Sure enough................sis !  I must be telepathic you see?  I must have known she was coming..  The bathroom door handle waggled ominously and there came a little voice "It's only me"

We both had dentist check-ups this week.  Anybody living in England will know that places on the books of NHS dentist are like gold dust,  They're rare s hens teeth so it always seems slightly - well - not right that Keith is one of the lucky ones.  Bless him, he hasn't got any teeth.  Not home grown ones anyway.  He gets checked for signs of anything nasty in his mouth .   Eeeugh, imagine going through school wanting to gaze into other people's mouths.  I could never have contemplated certain jobs:

Funeral director
Medical Examiner

In fact, anything involving poking about in something horrid.  I did see myself as an actress or a concert pianist.  It doesn't seem to have occurred to me though that if I was aiming for the latter I really should know how to play the piano!

The bathroom has loomed large in our comings and goings this week.  The other day Keith called through the door "Ang, Ang, it's the medical centre on the phone.  Do we want flu jabs this year?"

"Oh yes, yes I do," I replied, "Could you make an appointment for me?"

"Do I want one................?"  Oh heck!