Saturday, 24 September 2016

Kitchen equipment 2

Magimix 4200

When I retired all I asked for was a recipe book - but a very special recipe book.  I wanted people's favourite recipes, written out in their own hand so I had something very personal.  Someone then mounted all the recipes in an album and I have the most personal of reminders of the people in my old parishes.

But those lovely people also had a whip round and I got a cheque as well.  I decided to spend some of the money on a good quality food processor to help when making up the recipes.  I'd had cheap ones before but had hankered after something better so I bought one of these.  It's one of the gadgets which stays on the work surface all the time because I use it so much.  

Cheese is grated and frozen as soon as I buy it so there is less temptation to nibble.  Homemade coleslaw knocks the shop bought version into a cocked hat.  Soups are wondrously smooth.  (I have a hand held blender but this Magimix is much more thorough.)  Old crusts are made into breadcrumbs before freezing.  Items needing chopping whether it's to make stuffing or make Christmas pudding cause me no headaches.  Lemonade is a breeze.

I could go on and on but I think you get the idea.  My Magimix is versatile, strong and valued.  It helps me use up tatty ingredients in soup, makes cheese and other ingredients "go" further, and generally is a great ally in the kitchen.  

Would I replace it if it broke down?  Well, part of its value is that I treasure it because it was part of my retirement gift so I will be sad when it can process food no more but I think it will see me out anyway.  If it breaks down before I do, I will probably replace.  

Friday, 23 September 2016

Kitchen equipment

I am told that I am a very difficult person to buy presents for but I suspect that could be said of most ladies "of a certain age".  We just don't want more "stuff", we get picky about toiletries, we don't want calorific treats - the list of what we don't want goes on and on.

All this means that if I express the smallest interest in something there is a real danger that someone will remember and I receive it for my birthday or Christmas.  I happened to mention yoghurt makers last year and this came in my stocking.  It's an electric model from Lakeland and it makes lovely yoghurt, about 500g at a time.  I've had a lovely time buying various live yoghurts and using them as cultures.  I've also bought Easiyo and some dried cultures.  

I like the dried cultures best.  I make a batch using UHT milk and skim milk powder, eat it, and use the last little bit as a culture for the next lot.  Some of the yoghurt gets turned into cheese and if one ignores the initial cost of the machine, it's very economical. 

But there's the rub.  I can ignore the cost of the machine as it was a gift.  I make a batch most weeks and I reckon it's about 20p per 500g cheaper than an equivalent natural yoghurt so over a year I will have saved £10.  I'd have to make and eat steadily at that rate for two years to break even and that ignores the cost of electricity.

I like my yoghurt maker.  I find it convenient and I enjoy the yoghurt and the cheese that I make.  Will I replace it when it breaks down?  I doubt it.

Friday, 16 September 2016

A September joy

It's sad when the runner beans come to an end.

It's sad when the curtains have to be drawn earlier and earlier each evening.

It's sad when lovely summer clothes have to be packed away to make room for warm jumpers.

But today I knew a special September joy for one of the joys of winter is to load the slow cooker before going out and then come home to the tempting aromas of a lamb casserole just waiting to be ladled on to the plate.

Maybe winter isn't so bad.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

I'm a winner!

It's only a month since I last posted about comping but I've had another win!  This time I've won some cosmetics including a "wide awake pen"  (supposed to do wondrous things to the area below the eyes), a cleansing balm. a set of six bronzers, day dew, mascara, lipstick, and an eye liner.  Some will go into my own dressing table, some may be Christmas gifts.  

Monday, 5 September 2016

Free Learning

It's a while since I did a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) but I'm starting one today and one next week,  Both are free.  Just go to

This week I'm starting a course on Cyber Security, something which concerns anyone using t'interweb.  This one is offered by Newcastle University and it's a three week course exploring practical cyber security including privacy online, payment safety and security at home.  The organisers reckon you will need about three hours a week to complete the course which sounds to me like nine hours very well spent. 

Next week I'm starting another MOOC:  Financing Fundamentals, Managing the Household Balance Sheet.  That's a four week course again needing three hours per week.  It's offered by The Open University

These free courses use videos, quizzes, short articles and interactive games to teach important subjects in an interesting way.  I don't normally do more than one at once but I think these two subjects are so important that I don't want to miss out on either!

Most Futurelean courses are available to students in other countries to but I am aware some aren't and unfortunately I have no means of checking availability outside the UK but why not nip over to and see what's on offer.



Sunday, 28 August 2016

Scrabbling around in the fridge

Yesterday the latest incarnation of Cheeky Bottom Soup made its appearance at Frugal Follies.  This time a scrabble around the fridge yielded yellow courgettes, green courgettes, tomatoes, runner beans and onions.  All bar the onions were free food from my own garden or the prolific gardens of friends,

I bunged the whole lot in a roasting tray with a glug of olive oil and a wallop of garlic and a plonk of pesto in a moderate oven for an hour, then blitzed them.  Some was combined with a little vegetable stock for lunch but the rest will be frozen without stock (to save freezer space) and pulled out in the winter when I need a reminder of summer sunshine.  

Friday, 26 August 2016

Childhood Treats

Writing about pop yesterday started me thinking about childhood treats.  Pop was very, very rare back then.  It never appeared at home, only if we were out for a day and we called at a pub on the way home.  A bottle of fruit squash appeared at birthdays and Christmas but otherwise it was water or milk.

The oddest treat I can remember was sandwiches cut on the diagonal.  Let me explain.  In our house sandwiches were normally cut "square", i.e. the cuts were parallel to the sides of the bread.  Birthday sandwiches were cut on the diagonal, as most sandwiches are cut today.  Don't ask me why diagonally cut sandwiches were considered to be a treat: it's totally illogical but I think Mother was very crafty in making me THINK that they were a treat.

And maybe that's a skill which I need to re-learn, the skill of finding modest treats, inexpensive treats, simple ways of making things special.  Too often treats are associated with spending money rather than taking care or using imagination.  My current favourite treats of this sort are freshly ironed sheets and vegetables put onto the table in pretty serving dishes.

Anybody got any more ideas?