Well I’m not surprised we have a water shortage in the South East! have you ever tried to report a leak in the road? It has taken me nearly 25 minutes to get through to someone that wants to own the problem. I first called Southern Water, and they denied ownership of the pipe, and said it was Sutton and East Surrey‘s responsibility. After endless press 1 for this and 2 for that and being left on hold, they denied ownership, and suggested Thames Water. They had even more press 1 for this and 2 for that; think it went up to 5 plus “have you looked at our website?”!! Well I am still on hold so I thought I would start my blog, and see how far I could get! Oh I have just been offered a call back service so I don’t need to hold any longer!! I have now spoken to an automated person who says they will call me back within the hour so watch this space. Meanwhile I am already fretting about the pending hosepipe ban, due to start at the beginning of April, wondering how it will effect my potential vegetable crop this year, whilst gallons of water are gushing down the road .. what a terrible waste of this precious commodity.
Yes, it is true … I would rather be in my vegetable patch, and yesterday was no exception .. The sun was warm, the soil moist, and my two trustee garden helpers, Archie and Wilfred were available to supervise me! I had planned to prepare the soil for my potatoes that are chitting in the conservatory, so armed with a large fork and my wellies, I started digging. I had under estimated what a hard job this is, and after an hour of back breaking manual labour, I decided to delegate this particular task to the other man in my life! There are endless jobs that need doing in the garden at this time of year, so I busied myself for a few hours with my helpers until they stopped in protest for a tea break! I harvested the last of my leeks and rustled up some of Delia’s Leek and Potato Soup when I got back in the house.
So Thames Water … your hour is up, and you haven’t returned my call!! My garden assistants want to go “walkies” … I can’t bear the thought of having to go through another round of trying to contact you … sort yourself out!!
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Posted in Christmas, tagged Christmas, Delia Smith, dining room table, free carrier, free range turkey, fresh greenery, gold glitter, M & S, Ocado, red roses on December 22, 2011|
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Well I am now beginning to question my sanity! Last night I had a quick check to see what time M & S opened today, as the most important thing on my list today was to secure the turkey. To my surprise for the next couple of days it opens at 7am, so possibly because I like to be ahead of the game, or crowds in this situation, I set my alarm for the crack of sparrows and found my self driving into Dorking before it was light! And I am happy to report that my dawn mission paid off. Firstly the car park was empty. Not only did I get the last two free range Turkey’s in the chiller, I was offered by a lovely girl (shop assistant) a whole side of fresh salmon for £5 which I have stashed in my freezer for a later date! I managed to fill up a little trolley in no time, and at the checkout was greeted by a friend of mine who was working on the till, so I had a natter whilst loading my groceries into my own free carrier bags. All in all a very stress free and pleasant experience although a little early in the day!
On returning home, I quickly prepared my Delia Smith Parmesan Parsnips, and they are open freezing now, whilst I write this. My final pre-Christmas job on the list for today was to make a dining room table decoration. I managed to buy some beautiful red roses that had been tipped in gold glitter, and some bronze sprayed thistles from M & S earlier, totaling £11. I foraged in the garden for greenery and mistletoe, and then made a display pushed into oasis that was secured to a plastic plant saucer. I have to say I was pleased with the outcome, and am enjoying the new-found florist within me!
Tomorrow I plan to rejuvenate the display that I made last week, with some fresh greenery, and take delivery of my ridiculously expensive Ocado shop, which I booked back in October ….. always an early bird eh!?
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Well the countdown to Christmas is truly underway with less than a week to go! I am working through my list, with a couple of cooking jobs scheduled for today and yet another delivery of mistletoe to my local Kingfisher Farm Shop. I was just reading an article on the BBC website that mistletoe is a dying species and under threat of extinction! Not sure I should be harvesting it daily, but the mistletoe season is very short so I can’t miss this opportunity!
I now have to admit, that I only completed one of my pre Christmas cooking tasks today due to time constraints! I have made the Delia Smith Cranberry and Orange Relish, to go with our turkey, and popped it in the freezer. Another very simple recipe and so much nicer than the shop bought variety … it’s such a beautiful vibrant burgundy colour laced with Port and packed with the zingy flavour of fresh cranberries. Got a house full of family to entertain tomorrow, so I think it’s unlikely that my Parmesan Parsnips will be prepared! It’s ok though … everything is under control (famous last words!).
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So today is the day to get ahead with the preparation of some food items, that will make the big day less stressful and more enjoyable to us domestic godesses! I made a double lot of of the delicious orange pastry that I use for my mince pies, and I also invented a fruity stuffing to go with my Christmas day Turkey. I made the mincemeat about a month ago, which was so easy, and if you haven’t made any yet and have a minute over the weekend, I always use a Delia Smith recipe which is quick and idiot proof! Below are the three stages of development from the mincemeat prior to being cooked, then in the jars waiting followed by the finished article!
As for the orange pastry… I think I originally got this recipe from my dear friend Mrs Mad, and I have since passed it to all my friends as it is the most delicious pastry recipe I have ever used.
In a food processor, combine 1lb plain flour, with 12oz butter and 6oz icing sugar. Then add the zest and juice of an orange and combine until it forms a dough. This can then be kept in the fridge and used as required.
The next job that was ticked off my list today was making the stuffing for Christmas day. I prefer a non-meaty stuffing and couldn’t find a recipe for what I fancied, so I softened an onion with some smoked garlic, added some chopped chestnuts, apricots, an apple, some sage, juice and zest of a lemon, some fresh white breadcrumbs with heaps of seasoning and bound it with one of my freshly laid eggs. Then I had a vision and decided to roll it into two long log shapes, in cling film, ready for the freezer, so that on the big day I can cook it and slice it into perfect portions making it so simple to serve whilst looking aesthetically pleasing! After all, you eat with your eyes!!
Next job will be my cranberry sauce … the cranberries arrived in my Tescos delivery but I forgot to order an orange .. dementia again!!
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So like a lot of women at the moment, I woke up with a start at 5am, and all thoughts of the looming Christmas events circled round in my mind. I put on my electric blanket and tried to toast myself back to sleep, as for once I didn’t even need to be awake this early on a weekday. I ended up with a manmade hot flush and a head that was swirling with thoughts like ‘have I got all the presents for everyone, and more importantly, had I spent the same amount on each of my three daughters, to make sure it is fair’. I have spent the last 21 years trying to point out that actually, life isn’t fair and if you grow up thinking it is you will be forever dissapointed!
Anyway, after an eventful day of delivering my car for a service, harvesting mistletoe from my tree and delivering it to my local farm shop for sale, getting my ski boots adjusted at Snow & Rock, buying a few more stocking presents to make things fair, making a Delia Smith Chocolate Truffle Torte, walking the dogs, feeding the chickens and collecting my car from its service, all of this whilst nursing a sick child, I have just sat down and decided it is time to write some lists!! I have written out my rough menus for the next couple of weeks, so I actually know the enormity of what I am tackling, and then gone into my Tescos home delivery order for this week, and added all the things that I can buy in advance. I have an Ocado scheduled for the day before Christmas Eve, so I will add all the fresh bits to this order. Now that I have written some lists, I instantly feel more calm, without the urge to grab a glass of wine, because on GMTV this morning they were saying that too a many women drink daily and end up with their kids being their carers .. and I know how that feels with a mum suffering from dementia, so I wouldn’t want to burden my girls quite yet!!
So in summary …. if you want to have a full nights sleep between now and 25th December, it’s all about a list!!!
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