Wednesday, 10 February 2010

a country mouse returns

The spring sunlight is showing up the dust, the smell of windowlene is in the air and country mouse is back after a long and unplanned break. Poor Grandado Mouse has been stuck in the Victoria Infirmary, unfondly known as the Vicky, for most of January. Little R and I have been taking Little Granny to visit each afternoon and evening so there has not been time for much else. I have a cousin who is a doctor and knows this place well, and his view is, "If you can walk in, run out." Luckily Grandado Mouse is home again now though and we're all smiling again.

I did hope to keep up with the blogging but found that while I could find time to do some of the things I'd usually blog about if I really made a point of it, I couldn't find time to actually write about them too.
For example, you know when you read a recipe and you think OK, 40 minutes for that bit, 20 minutes for that bit, but you don't take into account all the other blocks of 20 minutes here and there it takes to do things like find that certain pot you need, oh God it's in the garage, re-wash your only decent sharp knife, sterilise the jars...and suddenly it's midnight, you're still stirring and the kitchen looks like a bomb has hit it? I was so determined to use these Seville oranges that I pitched in on my return home from hospital visiting at nine o'clock one night, full of enthusiasm for blogging it all.
It is now referred to as Orange and Ginger Migraine Marmalade in honour of the consequences I suffered the next day. Should you have a bit more time to devote to it than I did, the recipe is here: To make it into ginger marmalade, I bashed up some root ginger inside a muslin bag and tied it to the handle so it hung inside the pot. It tastes good but it left a very sticky cooker.
I can see a theme of MESS emerging here from my "making" activities. Little R was given a paper making kit by her kind aunt, uncle and cousin for Christmas and had been agitating to be allowed to use it. We finally got round to ripping up several sheets of the Racing Post and some egg boxes into tiny bits and left them to soak over night before getting ourselves and the kitchen covered in the resulting pulp the next day.
The kit comes with things I have learned are called deckles to make paper in various shapes so of course we chose the loveheart. The instructions suggested sprinkling on some flower seeds to that the paper could later be planted. We didn't have any so used some of the lavender that's been drying at the kitchen window since summer. Perhaps it would be safe to say it's dry now. My brother, the donor of the paper making kit, was horrified to learn that I got this lavender from Tesco by less than law-abiding means. Every time I went to that awful place during the lavender season I'd bring a pair of scissors and a carrier bag and snip some good handfuls from the miles (and I mean miles - it is one of those massive Tesco Extra places) of lavender planted round the edges of the car park. My conscience is easy on the matter, she said, guiltily. I rarely leave Tesco without having spent in the region of £100 (and still nothing for the dinner), I only took a few sprigs from each plant so there was no damage and anyway they ripped the whole lot out and replaced it with ugly municipal cotoneaster while it was still in full and fragrant bloom.
Here is the result after 24 hours to dry out. It wouldn't stand up to much writing but it would make a nice gift tag or something, and Little R is highly delighted with her work. The stolen lavender smells nice too.
Something else that smells nice is tonight's dinner, simmering away in the slow cooker and allowing me to feel smug and organised. I've been missing doing proper cooking during January as hospital visiting times did not leave much leisure for pottering in the kitchen. We've been eating lots of Marks and Spencer Feel Fuller Longer things as they're quick and easy and had a pound off during January. My goodness, they certainly do what they say on the tin. We would be fuller within 2 minutes of beginning to eat them and be unable to look breakfast in the eye the next day.
This is another made-up sausage casserole thing, this time inspired by The Ample Cook: It's venison sausages for Daddy Mouse and Quorn sausages for me, in a sauce of garlic, tomatoes, red wine, mushrooms, thyme, bay leaves and shallots and the plan is to scoff it with mashed potatoes and runner beans later tonight. The chocolate cake below is for pudding and there may even be a slice or two left for Lynn and Annie when they visit tomorrow (if they get here sharp).


  1. Yay, you're back! Sorry to hear about Grandado Mouse & hope he makes a speedy recovery now he has escaped.

    The chocolate cake looks interesting? Is it a sponge cake? It certainly looks nice & chocolately, mmmmmmmmm.

  2. Its lovely to see to see you back - sounds like you've had a lot on your plate (& I'm not talking about that yummy looking cake)

    Poor Grandad, but its good to read he's out.

    Look after yourself.....

    Love Lydiaxx

  3. Glad you're back. Sorry for the difficult time you have has but sounds like he is on the mend.

  4. So good to have you back and that Grandado Mouse is on the mend. Its not a pleasant time when a member of the family is poortly.

    I see what you mean about the lavender!

    I don't think there is antything wrong with taken it from the source you have. Also its a cut and come again plant, so no harm done at all. Well thats what I think. Others may not agree, but I am with you on this one.

  5. Ah, thank you for your lovely lovely comment! SO glad you're back on the blog!

  6. I know what you mean about blogging - the more you blog the less time you have to do creative things to blog about, and vice versa!

    Glad Grandado Mouse is on the mend, and hope you all stay well.

    Pomona x

  7. Only just seen this. How lovely of you and how delicious your sausage casserole looks. x