Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Busy birds


There has been a lot of visitors in the garden the last few days. I have been constantly in and out making sure our feathered friends have plenty to eat.

I managed to get a few pictures of the little wren, it was difficult because this little one was on the go all the time, in and out of the plants looking for insects and spiders. 


Other visitors...


















Winter is such a hard time for the birds, they rely on us humans to help them out and I do all I can for them.

Birds are beautiful.


Sunday, 10 December 2017

Snow and Christmas Cake



I will have a catch up with blog reading later, it seems that many of us have woken up to snow this morning.







The view from the front of the bungalow looking out at the park.
Doesn't it look pretty on the trees.





It continues to snow here and forecasts it until the early hours of tomorrow morning.

I needed some bread and milk so my son walked up to Asda with me, he's a big lad 6ft ish, he looked after his little mum and made sure I didn't slip up, bless him.

I have been in and out of the garden making sure the wild birds have plenty to eat, and have thrown handfuls of sultanas, suet, and mealworms under the trees and also placed a dish of water under the tree. 


We must look after the wildlife, they need our help more than ever on days like these.




This afternoon I thought I would finish off the Christmas cake, so that is one more job out of the way.

I am not brilliant at decorating cakes, but I am pleased with my efforts, looks pretty good I think.



Nice and sparkly.



Saturday, 9 December 2017

Another tick off the list


Just a little over two weeks until Christmas now and I like to get ahead, so today I made the red cabbage for the freezer.

Ingredients


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • generous knob of butter
  • 2 onions - chopped
  • 600g red cabbage - shredded
  • 2 eating apples
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 5 tbsp soft brown sugar
  • 150 ml red wine vinegar




Heat the butter and oil in a large saucpan ( you will need one with a lid).
Add the onion and gently fry until softened.
Stir in the spices.
Add the cabbage and fry gently for 5 minutes. 
Peel, core and chop the apples into small chunks - they will break down and disappear, but it adds to the flavour, add the apple, sugar and red wine vinegar.



Cover and cook on a gentle heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.




Bagged up ready for the freezer, some for Christmas day and some for another occasion. Will just need warming through on the day.


Friday, 8 December 2017

Soup


Hello and welcome to my new follower Rachel.


On my post yesterday I mentioned I would be making leek and potato soup using the chicken stock I had made last night.

One of my lovely Canadian readers Jackie asked if I would be able to share my leek and potato recipe. I do have a few different versions of leek and potato soup, I also do a creamed one which uses evaporated milk. But today I made what I call the more frugal version.

This will make four very generous servings.

Ingredients

  • 70g Butter
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 400g leeks sliced
  • 250g potatoes peeled and cut into small chunks
  • 2 pints chicken or vegetable stock
  • seasoning
  • single cream to serve (optional)


Melt the butter in a large saucepan on a medium heat.
Add the vegetables and gently saute for around 3-4 minutes until soft.
Pour in the stock, bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 - 20 minutes.



Remove from the heat and liquidise until smooth. 

Season well.

I would describe the consistency as medium.

We had one of the pies I made last night for tea, tomorrow will be some of  the sweet and sour I also made last night, this leek and potato soup will be kept in the fridge until Sunday.

When served I will add a swirl of cream.



Thursday, 7 December 2017

Busy in the kitchen


I have just had a few busy hours in the kitchen, but the next few days I won't have to spend much time cooking, I prefer to make things ahead and also cook more for the freezer these days.

A few days ago I went up to Morrison's and bought 2 small chickens and a small piece of gammon on the any 3 for £10 deal.

So tonight I roasted both the chickens.

Oh how I love the smell of chicken roasting.




So I made us a warm chicken and bacon salad for our tea tonight.

It was delicious.



The carcasses were stripped of the meat and put in a pan with celery, carrots, onions, salt, peppercorns and bay leaves to make a stock.




The meat juices from the roasting dish were made into some gravy.


I made a chicken, mushroom, onion and bacon pie covered with some of the delicious gravy.




I had two rolls of ready made pastry in the fridge which I picked up cheaply yesterday, I confess I haven't made pastry for a while, it is one of those things I have never enjoyed doing, so I cheat these days.

So this pie will be for tea tomorrow night.



Another pie for the freezer, chicken, bacon, onion and sweetcorn.




Then I made sweet and sour chicken.
Some to keep in the fridge to use in a couple days time and the two foil dishes are for the freezer so another meal for us another time.



I will go for a walk tomorrow and buy some leeks and make a leek and potato soup using the stock.




So that's the meals taken care of for the next few days and a few for the freezer.



So now time for some refreshment.



Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Goldfinches






Goldfinches are one of Britain's most attractive birds, a group of goldfinches are know as a charm. In winter they can form a flock of up to 40 sometimes even more, many of them will migrate in the Winter as far as the south of Spain, but not all. It is very easy to tell when they are around as you will hear a pleasant medley of trills and twitters filling the air. 

The plumage of the goldfinch is very striking, both sexes have a black, white and red head pattern and are very similar, though the male has a little more red around the eye and a slightly larger beak, and off course they have a little golden colouring.  They leave nesting until later in the season compared to most other garden birds, the nest is made from grass and mud and lined with wool to create a deep cupped well insulated nest, they often collect lichen to put on the exterior of the nest, presumably this is to camouflage. 

The female will five or six white very finely spotted eggs, and they take two weeks to hatch, the male will collect food for the female so she can incubate the eggs almost continuously. 

The young are fed on regurgitated seeds and a variety of plants, their first brood will usually hatch around June, some even as late as September. The juvenile birds can be seen in the early summer and are less colourful.

This is a photo I took in the summer, the juvenile is the one on the left.


If you want to attract them to the garden, they love sunflower hearts and niger seed, the niger seed is so small and fine it needs to go in a specially designed feeder which has the smaller holes.


This morning there were around ten goldfinches in our garden, but trying to take a photo of them together was somewhat difficult, but I did manage a few good photos.





Monday, 4 December 2017

A simple Christmas & some freebies


Before I continue with this post I just want to mention something.
There has been a lot of talk in blog land about Frugal Queen's disappearance. There has even been a thread started on MoneySavingExpert.com titled where is the queen?

I did read through a few pages, it seems no one knows anything as all her social media accounts have vanished, some people are really concerned others are turning nasty, but this post is not about that, I have read her blog for years and like many others hope all is well. I just wanted to point it out that someone comments on the thread on MoneySavingExpert  with the name of Simple Living, this is not me, it is someone else, I use a different name when using that website, I am not getting involved.

Moving on.........

At the weekend the Christmas tree went up and a little decorating done. When you see all the fancy displays in garden centres and stores it is easy to see how people get tempted into buying things they can't really afford, just because they want to keep up with everyone else.

We did buy a few new baubles last year very cheaply in the B & Q sale, and on Sunday I bought this little planter for £3.50.




 I did pick up these lights and the two little deer on Freecycle the other day so I do have a few different things. 





The only thing left to do is put up a few decorations on the ceiling, again what we already have.

We won't be joining in hype, we will make do unless I see anything giving away on Freecycle which I fancy.









































The last few days checkoutsmart.com have been giving away some freebies.

As there are three of us we all claimed the offers. It is very simple, you just purchase the product, upload a till receipt and get paid back by Paypal.

So we managed to bag all of this for free.






Don't forget I won the competition for free Christmas lunch - turkey, sausages, bacon, stuffing and cranberry sauce. So this set to be a very low cost Christmas.