Friday, 28 August 2009


Homemade: bread, hummus, Fennel and Orange pickle, Aubergine pickle. I could eat the Fennel pickle straight from the jar. So delicious. The Aubergine is 'ok'- a bit tart but I am sure I will get over that. The hummus was delicious, too, much to my surprise because it is a bit of a hit-and-miss affair with me.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled pepper..

...or in other words, more pickling. (I know, doesn't make sense but I do have pickling on the brain right now).

These pickles are Gingery Sweet Pickled Vegetables. They smelled so good as I was putting them in the jars that I am sure they are going to be delicious.

Here we have two jars of Honeyed Peppers. I have to say that unless they are completely spectacular I won't be making them again as they were a complete pain in the ass to do.

ETA: Rest assured, Davi, they do indeed have vinegar in them. The Ginergy one is supposed to be 100% rice wine vinegar, so I am not sure how topping it up with cider vinegar will go, but I'm hopeful.. The Honeyed Pickles have a wine vinegar and water mix.

I'm sure I have more pickling in me yet ;o)

Potted sunshine

Peppers with fennel seeds, bay leaf and garlic. I'm looking forward to eating these with homemade hummus and crusty bread.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Apple and Onion pickle

This one is so easy- thinly slice one peeled and cored apple. Thinly slice an onion. Layer in a jar with mace, allspice (had none so I used a few peppercorns), sliced ginger and a few shakes of flaked, dried hot pepper. Cover with cider vinegar. Leave in a cool place for a couple of weeks.

In answer to T's question 'With what does on eat apple and onion pickle?'the answer is: I haven't a clue! And to be completely honest, I haven't a clue what to eat with most of the pickles I've made!! I'm just going to keep trying different combinations. I can say, however, that the Fennel and Orange pickle is great with chicken.

Banana cake

I have lost my favourite banana cake recipe, so I am trying this one from
Bake. It was a bit odd as I have never made a banana cake with the rubbed-in method. I added sultanas as suggested, because I always do. I left out the nuts and cherries because they have no business being in a banana cake, no siree!

Iced Vanilla Latte

This is my weapon of choice at a well-known coffee chain that I visit most Wednesdays. I decided that I didn't have to be a barista to make my own. Yesterday I cold-brewed some coffee and today mixed some of it up with ice, vanilla syrup and low-fat milk.

How'd it turn out? Delicious.

ETA: cold brewed coffee is as easy as pie. Get a container, add some ground coffee, pour in some cold water and leave in the fridge overnight. Then put it through a coffee filter. This gives you a concentrated coffee that you can dilute to taste. I just added about 1/4 cup of coffee to a jar of water.

Migraine update

Saw the (lovely in every possible way) neurologist today.I had stopped taking the vitamin B2 and Co-enzyme Q10 supplement because...well, because the beta blocker was working so well for the first three weeks that I was not motivated to take it. Having discussed the matter at length I will be taking it religiously for the next six weeks. I can increase the current beta blocker if need be, but I am not going to do that just now because I don't want my ability to use the crosstrainer affected.

I am also going to contact a specialist who is running a programme relating to hole in the heart and migraines. It is just possible that I have this defect. It is also important to know whether or not the hole is there because a very small hole can increase the chance of small emboli being thrown off and lodging in the brain. Hmm. Nice.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009


This time last week my maximum pulse during my 32 minutes (yes, I count every one!!)on the crosstrainer was 136 BPM. This week that maximum was down to 126BPM, so I'm taking that as a good sign. I am going to stay at 32 minues for a month and then I will increase the intensity and see what happens. I'm sure it won't be pretty....

Tomorrow I have a follow-up with the neurologist. If it had been this time last week I would have been jumping up and down and 100% delighted. However, the last week has been really crap, quite frankly, and I am at a complete loss to explain why. Nothing has changed. So I am not sure what will happen at tomorrow's appointment

First signs

Well, second signs when I think about it. The first signs have been with me since the beginning of August - slight colour changes in the leaves. Today I saw my first leaves on the ground, all brown and sad-looking. Man, I hate it when summer is over.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Banana Chutney

Making half a recipe might lea^d you to think there would be half the stated yield, but in this case it made just about a third. I have a half jar which I didn't boil (it kept floating) so that will be kept in the fridge for a month and then be eaten first.

Pickled beans

No matter how hard I try, I don't seem to get the jars packed firmly enough, although in this picture you can't see the space at the bottom of the jars because of the towel that they are sitting on.

As I write this there is the comforting sound of 'popping' going on in the background, letting me know that the seal is working :0)

Tonight I am going to make some banana chutney. However, as I can now see from the (obvious) quantity stated, the recipe makes six and a half pints. I'll be halving that, as I can't see me working my way through that much chutney, now matter how much I like it.

ETA: Turns out that 2 or the jars didn't seal. I put them back and boiled them for another 5 minutes and as soon as they came out the water bath they popped.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Pickled Grapes

These grapes look more like pickled eggs than grapes, which isn't a particularly enthralling though. I hope they are ok- in the shop I thought they were seedless and they aren't. All the recipes call for seedless but I am hoping that this is more to do with texture than anything more problematic.

ETA: I made double quantity of the preserving solution and it was only just enough.

(yet) more on pickles

I tried the fennel and orange with some roast chicken last night. Soooooo good. I think I am going to have to have a jar of this permanently on standby.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Oilve Oil Pickles

When I went to our local farm to get eggs this morning I found some cucumbers. They aren't like the ones we commonly have in the UK- they are fatter with bumps on. There were three of them and I reckoned they were perfect for my foray into pickled cucumbers.

They were so easy to prepare- cut in half lengthways and scoop out the seeds. Thinly slice two small onions and mix in with the cucumbers and salt. Leave for 5 hours, drain and then layer with yellow mustard seeds and flaked chillies. Cover with wine vinegar and float a couple of tablespoons of oil on the top. Kept in a cool place, these will be ready in a couple of weeks.

Friday, 14 August 2009

canned pears

Canned the pears last night (actually, I want to say 'jarred', because I didn't use cans, but I guess it is the process that is called canning, not the containers? Anyway, I have a question for y'all. How long to pickled pears need to be kept before they are at their best? This being a piece of information that I couldn't find in the book, which is odd because the other recipes have this.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Scary stuff

I went in search of a taller pan so that I can boil the jars but the only ones which came close to what I need were CHF300. Yep, 300 francs for a pot. I bought some smaller jars instead.

This seems to have done the trick. I boiled the jars of pickled pears for the 15 minutes stated plus an extra five to allow for altitude. Let me tell you, it was quite scary standing beside two full pots which were burping and bubbling away like molten lava. Hope the results are worth it - and I'm waiting impatiently to see if the last pot is going to 'pop.'

Wednesday, 12 August 2009


I'm on a bit o a preserving kick. Here is my 'pickled aubergine cubes'and 'fennel and orange.' Well, I made them, but the recipes came from
The Joy of Pickling. I have a little bone to pick - my understanding is that the vegetables need to be completely immersed in the pickling solution - to achieve this with the fennel pickle I had to make four times as much solution as directed. The other issue I have is that she doesn't give quantities - she tells you which size of jar but not how many. When you are a novice, it kinda helps to know. The other 'problem' is that I don't have a pan deep enough to boil the jars after filling, so they will need to be kept in the fridge. This is a pain, so I am going to be on the hunt for a deep enough pan.

I hope they are tasty, because one jar of each is a birthday present for my friend J

Edit: Seems that I couldn't see the wood for the trees. As soon as I opened the book this morning and looked at a recipe, there it was for all the world to see: the quantity, sitting loud and proud under the title of the recipe. Oops...

Tuesday, 11 August 2009


Before today I have had two endoscopies - believe me when I tell you that being semi-conscious while someone rams a tube down your throat is not a pleasant experience. Happily the doctor who performed the 3rd one today is not like the other two. He listened to my concerns and then made quite sure I was unaware of the procedure.

All of this is to follow up on the diagnosis I received two years ago re the oesphageal dismotility and acid reflux. Well, specifically to check whether or not there I have eosinophilic oesophagitis . A biopsy is the only way to tell, hence today's procedure. The good news is that there is no sign of Barrett's oesophagus which is great news. In fact, everything looks normal as far as the eye can tell.

Monday, 10 August 2009


I just took the lid off my kettle to check how much water was in it.....and discovered a big dead bug. How many cups of bug tea have I had.....?

Book Clubs

Everyone who is anyone seems to be in a book club. Don't let anyone tell you that we ex-pats don't have our fingers on the pulse.

Book clubs can be rather clique-y,and I have to admit that a couple of friends and I were knocked back from a club we tried to join. No particular reason, just that our faces didn't fit. Ho hum. We formed our own friendly club.

Right now we are reading Towing Jehovah by James Morrow . Basically, God id dead and his corpse needs towing to the Arctic circle to prevent it rotting. I was really enjoying it, but two things are getting in the way. Firstly, there is just too much yucky 'bodily' detail. I am sure there is a point to this, but frankly it turns my stomach. Secondly, and somewhat importantly, I managed to leave it on the bus. This is turning into a common occurrence with me, leaving things on buses and trams...* Here's hoping that the replacement copy gets here in time - we're discussing it on Friday. I'm going to take along chocolate cup cakes with vanilla frosting, so I'm gonna make sure I eat mine well before we get to the gunky bits of the discussion ;0)

On the migraine front, I am very, very pleased. In the last 5 days I have had only one dose of painkillers And as far as we can tell, I have not been sleepwalking, although I am still having some bizarre dreams (OK, more bizarre than normal). So it looks as if this beta blocker might be a winner.

And for no particular reason, here is another pic from Harlow Carr

*Now you know why NUmber Guy has said we can use his mah jong set but I am not allowed to take it out of the house!

Monday, 3 August 2009

Gawd, I hate cleaning the fridge.

No, really, I do. I loathe it. Yet somehow today I have managed to cast my negative feelings aside and embrace the basin of water. Well, not really - cleaning a fridge in a wet t-shirt is not my idea of a fun time. Seems I did it just in time - there were things in my fridge that were approaching that time in their life where they could only be identified by a particularly keen archaeologist.

I would provide some kind of evidence except that someone (aka Number Guy) has moved the cable that lets my phone and computer talk to each other. I also wanted to show you the delicious dim sum that my friend J made for the -mah-jong-session-that-never-happened, together with a pic of the glorious matcha cupcakes that I made for same session-that-didn't-happen.

On the migraine front, things are (fingers crossed) looking fairly good. Not as good as that other beta blocker, but a shed load better than this time last week. I was just a little disturbed to wake up this morning to discover that I had in fact signed something that Number Guy gave me last night. I have no knowledge of this at all, yet the signature looks remarkably like mine....oh well.