April 2007


Some photos from the weekend (which Mom took) and from today, that i took of the garden (behind the cut as per usual)…

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my parents came to visit yesterday (which is why i’ve not blogged – and am woefully behind on the ~ today ~ entries… i’ll catch up over the next couple of days). It was a great day; they got to see my progress in the garden, Mom brought some bluebells with her for me to plant (did i say i love bluebells?) and some lemon balm, and showed me how to take cuttings off plants (need to buy some rooting powder), and dad helped us go and get a big chair for Michiel (having a car is so handy) and helped Michiel put it together. I cooked fahitas and nachos, they ate themselves silly (well.. dad did) and we caught up and smiled and laughed and chatted.. but.. i am sooooo tired now. Not so much because of the visit but because of getting the flat spruced up. We can be, occasionally, rather lax with the housework – especially if other things get in the way (like the garden) and of course with Michiel’s back being bad, i’ve had to do a lot of it on my own, where normally he would’ve helped. He’s stubborn though: he insisted on doing the bathroom himself (although he did an absolutely smashing job of it) and doing the chair yesterday.. I have never seen a man in so much pain (and the utter relief when he sat into his chair and his back was supported properly) … he has agreed to go to the doctors if it doesn’t start to heal up over today and tomorrow.

in other news: Sarah is coming to visit for a couple of days in May, which makes me happy: we can talk garden talk and girl talk and go shopping and stuff which is great! Some of this stuff is lost on Michiel (he does try but.. he has a limit for girl-wittering). It’ll be great to see her – its been about a year or so since i have. (its also the day after her birthday, so we’re currently engaged in discussions about the oh-so-important-obligatory birthday cake. Chocolate. Naturellement.)

I’ll do a proper update on garden/diet at some point too… and i’ve a more personal post about the psychology of anger to make as well, that’s been on my mind for a while. And update the ~ today ~ entries. work on the garden some. lots to do 🙂

I bet you’re wondering where on earth Modbury is.. and why we’re applauding it.

Its a small sleepy town in south Devon.. and we’re applauding it cos its the first town in the UK to ban plastic bags.

I hope its the first of many. 🙂

The diet is going well. We’ve been on it for all of 2 days, so far, and i think we’ve both been somewhat pleasantly surprised at how nice the food is (helped a little by moi, naturellement), and i don’t know about Michiel, but certainly don’t feel hungry most of the time.

I’ve also been extremely busy since yesterday: not only food  & other shopping, but also all the cooking that’s involved with this kind of diet, and walking Jess morning and night: Michiel is in a lot of pain at the moment because of his back (the chair he was using, a tall backed executive type chair) finally gave up the ghost last week (well it was 20 years old) and he’s been using either my typists chair or one of the plastic picnic chairs – neither of which provide the kind of support for his back that he needs. We’ve found a replacement for a suitable price from Argos, but they won’t deliver, so we’ve asked my parents ever-so-nicely if they would pick it up on saturday when they come to visit (which they will). So until then, there’s no real prospect of his back getting any better – which means that he’s not really able to do very much around the house.

The weather has turned fine again. This means that the idiots are out on their little motorbikes again, roaring up and down the footpath (i’ve nothing against proper motorcyclists, the ones that drive on the roads – the ones i’m referring to here are illegal, the bikes don’t have number plates, and aren’t legal to ride on the roads, or on footpaths for that matter) and they upset Jess. More to the point, people take their dogs for walks more in fine weather – which is fine, except that you get some people who choose completely unsuitable dogs for themselves, ones that they don’t stand a hell’s chance in controlling, and then have the cheek to yell at *me* when their dog goes for Jess (especially when i’m being a good dog walker: giving them time to get their dogs on the leash, and stepping off the path for them to pass by). gaaaaaaaahh!!

In terms of the shopping, the food shopping has gone well. Went to Ashton under lyne and Tescos yesterday. The fruit and veg stall i go to absolutely *adore* me at the moment – I’ve probably spent about £20 there this week, but its worth it. I picked up a carrier bag full of chestnut mushrooms yesterday for £1, and i really wish i’d gotten the other one too. As it was i went back today to see if they had any more, and they did, but they were normal mushrooms, so i got 2 carrier bags of those for £2. Which makes Michiel very happy, as he adores chomping on raw mushrooms (he’s very much a forager: loves nothing more than going fridge raiding). We had some of the chestnut mushrooms last night for tea: a mushroom and bean ragout. I won’t give the recipe as i’m pretty sure its copyrighted (its from the GI Diet books), but i wasn’t that impressed. It didn’t work well as a ragout, needed something else in flavouring stakes (bit more tomato paste i think?) and would’ve worked much better as a chilli, and i think i will cook it again, but as a chilli. Anyway, this recipe gets you to chop all the mushrooms very finely (in a food processor if you have one) so the mushroom takes on the texture of the meat in the dish, and that part works well. it was just the flavouring i objected to.

We had some more today too for breakfast. I started to cook them down in a little olive oil and herbs and garlic, with the intention of having them on toast… only to find out that someone had finished off the bread in the middle of the night. Oh well. So instead i pulled out a tortilla pancake, cooked a quick omlette, put that in the middle of the pancake with the mushrooms ontop, and some sliced tomatoes ontop of that. With a little tomato ketchup (not really allowed but what the hell), it was a lovely breakfast, one i think we’ll be having again – maybe just with the omlette this time though.

One thing i find i do struggle with when i’m on days like today (i.e. out and about) is having the snack. I forget to take an apple or somesuch with me, and of course, i’m facing temptations all day when i’m out and about. i was able to be good today and yesterday (the first oomph of impetus) but it’ll be harder in future i’m sure. Anyway the net result is that i’m starving when i get home, especially if i’ve carried heavy bags home. Last night i made up six little pots with (virtually sugar free – the kind they give to diabetics) raspberry jelly, but put some frozen raspberries in the bottom. I was able to grab one from the fridge today when i got home and it did help, at least long enough for me to get down to Aldi and come back and do dinner.

Dinner tonight was a big success. Garlic Prawn Pasta, its called. It calls for a lot of prawns so its not a cheap dish, but by god its good. Lots of garlic in it, and the prawns are cooked down in a stock (white wine or chicken stock but i used boullion). I also added some thinly sliced red peppers and thinly sliced onion, which wasn’t in the recipe, but i felt added body to it. the dish was completed with lots of chopped flat leaf parsley and some dried crushed chilli flakes, and the whole thing is served over wholemeal spaghetti pasta. Its pretty good, although i would have added cornflour to thicken the sauce up a little and help it to cling to the pasta a bit more, as it was rather thin – like a broth (and too much liquid, i thought, i ended up taking about a mugful out, which Michiel gleefully and happily drank later!) but for all that the taste and flavour certainly made up for last night’s disappointment, and we’ll be having that again.

then tonight, for our “midnight snack” (since we didn’t get to do lunch), i made up a Thai Prawn Soup. yeah, prawns again. This though, is fabulous – thin, like a broth, with lots of noodles and beansprouts floating in it, its absolutely packed with flavour and heat and, given that its so thin, surprisingly filling. I made a big pressure cooker pot of it, so we’ll have more tomorrow and finish the rest off another day.

One other thing i got from the fruit and veg stall was a huge bundle of rhubarb. I adore rhubarb, and we’re nearing the end of the season, so i decided to grab what was there while i could. £3.84 it cost me, but by god, its worth it. I chopped it all up last night and stewed it down, and half is now in the freezer for another time, half is in the fridge. I used sweetner instead of sugar and it works surprisingly well. You can taste the difference but its not unpleasant, i think. I’ll be doing some for pudding on saturday for mum (she’s a big rhubarb fan, whereas dad isn’t – dad is having one of the raspberry jellies, he’s a jelly fan and doesn’t get them very often), a recipe i read on “Book the Cook“,  but instead of doing it with greek yoghurt, as he has, i’m going to try making “yoghurt cheese”, which is a recipe from the GI Diet book (basically pouring low-fat natural yoghurt into a sieve lined with a teatowel and letting the liquid drip out of it to thicken it up) instead of the greek yoghurt, and then the only “naughty” thing will be the gingernuts. The main meal is Chicken Fahitas.

I went back into Ashton today.  I had to get some frozen stuff from Iceland, and i didn’t really want to risk going from there to Tescos in Droylsden and having it all defrost on me. So i went back up on the bus. Gave me the opportunity to go back into Argos to sort out Michiel’s chair, and while i was there i got a cordless strimmer for the garden, so i think tomorrow i’ll be working on that – if i get time, anyway. We’ve a house to clean before i get that far. And bread to make, and a few other bits n bobs (like cooking some of the mushrooms i got today to freeze). It promises to be a busy day tomorrow – still, i’m looking forward to my parents visiting, and i can relax on sunday.

Right now though, i’m going to toddle off to bed, because i really am absolutely wiped – nearly fell asleep watching “The Human Footprint” tonight – and i thought it was a really good programme, thought provoking in a good way!

no, this isn’t a “I’m Spartacus” ripoff… this is in reference to the year’s must-have ethical fashion item: the “I’m not a plastic bag” bag. It costs a fiver, is available from Sainsburys, and only 20,000 are going on sale, today. In fact, they’re probably sold out. They were going for £200 on ebay. (I wonder how long it will be before ripoffs hit the markets?)

I’m not entirely sure whether profits from the sales of the bag go to a green charity (this one is involved with this project) but i am sorely tempted to make – out of completely different colours and style, so there’s no intention of making a ripoff – a bag that says on the front: “I’m not a plastic bag either (pst.. and i cost a lot less)” and donating the difference to the charity.

would that be mean/unethical/bad to do? feedback welcome…

potatoes pushing throughI noticed on the way out to the shops today that the potatoes were really potatoes pushing through close upstarting to push through. They need earthing up, i know, but i wanted to get a picture of the seedlings before i do. They’re quite cute. I’ve never grown potatoes before, and i have no idea if these are going to work well or not.. be interesting to see. It doesn’t look as though its already earthed up in this bed, but it is, i promise. Just needs more dumping on top (and yes, i need to cut the grass – am buying a strimmer in the next couple of days).

rhodedendronsI also noticed the rhodedendrons coming out into flower. It’ll be a rhodedendrons close upfew days yet before they’re at their best (hopefully this weekend when my parents are visiting, so i can cut some for the flat), but i did want to share the beauty of them, you can see the potential of them when they’re in full bloom in these pictures, and up close, they’re just as pretty.

redcurrantAnd finally, my redcurrant is doing well. Everything in the garden is growing well, its like its taking all the rainwater and just running for it, really. The sweetcorn are pushing through, i won’t need to take them in the house afterall. Both varieties of bean are pushing up, so it won’t be long now before they need to go out too 🙂

In more negative news: i just read on the MetCheck site that we’re at risk of frost between 4th and 12th May, so i may hold off on planting anything out just yet. Or i could plant stuff and double cloche it.. will see.

Another article on the BBC News site grabbed my attention today as well (Yes i know, i get days like this. lol). This one’s about captioning in theatres so that deaf people can enjoy plays and so on as well.

captioning (aka subtitles in the UK) is basically putting up the lines that are being spoken, as they’re being spoken. Both the UK and the US have had captions for years on television, in the UK through both teletext and on video/dvd through closed captions. Film theatres have been a little slower to catch up, although i think some of the larger cities are now offering signed performances of select films, and captioned performances of other films. In theatres, although signed performances have been around for quite a while, captioned performances have taken a while to catch on, but thanks to a grant from the Arts council and government funding, its now being instituted. The article writes about the challenges facing those that work in this area, from the technology, to captioning in a sensitive manner, through to captioning live theatre, especially panto with all the ad-libbing!

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