Tuesday 30 June 2015

Fat or Sugar

Infographic borrowed from Mail Online/Food and Drink

Fat or sugar the debate rages on, which is bad for you, which does the most harm, which one should we avoid.  My view and that of a lot of well respected researchers is we should avoid sugar.  It does nothing for us other than give us insulin spikes, rot our teeth and cause us to become more and more addicted to it, there are NO vitamins, minerals or nutrients at all in sugar.  But the good thing is once you start it is surprisingly easy to cut down your consumption of it until your sweet tooth vanishes altogether.

I thought my sweet tooth had simply gone into hibernation until last Friday.  We were out and about running errands, picking up building supplies, paying for the last lot of building materials that had been delivered etc and I said to Lovely Hubby "I'll treat to to a cream tea", his eyes lit up like the eyes of a man that had not eaten a cream tea for a long time (he hadn't, he's been very good).

The reason for my offer, we were just about to drive past our favourite, and possible the cutest tea-rooms in Llanrwst .... Tu Hwnt Ir Bont, which means Beyond the Bridge.

Inside it looks like this, but with the glorious sunshine on the day we sat in the gardens and enjoyed the fresh air.  Why this ramble ... well I always order a plain buttered scone with my coffee while Lovely Hubby goes the whole hog with a pot of tea and a cream scone.  You get pretty impressive portions of jam and cream here so he offered me some, I spread the smallest quarter of one of my scones with jam and topped with some cream ..... and it was sickly sweet, I swallowed it down and had a quick swig of my strong black coffee to take the taste away.  

The thing is we know jam is full of sugar, but seeing the infographic shows just how much sugar is actually hidden in foods we think are good for us.  I used to eat Activia yoghurts, but I haven't for a long time, while they don't taste overly sweet because of the sour fruits in there I prefer to eat food in it's more natural state so just simple plain yoghurts for me and I add my own additional ingredients if I want any, usually a banana or some strawberries.

In the infographic I was shocked at the amount of sugar in the KFC coleslaw ... WHY!!  Coleslaw is a savoury thing why would it need sugar at all.  It's as though we are being driven purposefully into the clutches of the sugar producing companies, after all the more we get addicted to and come to expect the taste of sugar in everything we eat, the more we will spend on products that they make money out of.

Sorry for the rant, this infographic really got me going didn't it  :-)

Image result for buttered vegetables

My opinion on fat?  Well it's natural, it comes attached to various foodstuffs and it has nutrients we need, it also helps our bodies pull the vitamins and minerals that they need from the foodstuffs we eat, particularly vegetables,  So in my book fat has a place in our lives but sugar should be relegated to the bin.

I'll jump off my soap box now and go and sob quietly in the corner ...... the rabbits have eaten ALL my onions and shallots from the Veggie Patch.  I have to stop rescuing baby rabbits from Rosy and Ginger  they grow up to be veggie munching monsters, so from now on I will let them get on with pest control in their own way and just not watch while they do it.

Sue xx

Monday 29 June 2015

Building Work Goes On .... and On and On ....

After a bit of a respite last week the building work is once again going on and on and on.

Today and for a couple of days this week, it is the turn of the front walls to go up a bit more, in fact by the end of the week it should be almost done.  We can't quite finish this off as we have to leave room for the big HGV that will be delivering the garage steels to be able to reverse up the drive, but we can get up to the gate post block on the left side (as we are looking at it in the photo above) and almost as high up on the righthand side.

At least it will look like good progress.

Over the weekend the big water storage tank was delivered.

So now it's sat near the retaining wall looking for all intents and purposes like a little submarine, only instead of keeping water out as a submarine would, it will be collecting all the rainwater that falls on the garage and workshop roof and storing it for us to pump up and use to water the polytunnel and the veggie patch.

Deliveries continue to arrive and trucks of various descriptions and sizes disgorge loads of stone, pipework, sand and cement.  I just try to take photos to document all the comings and goings when I can.

In more plant based news, I managed to get my Tomtatoes planted this weekend.  One is at the front of the polytunnel in the zinc planter ....

... and the other two are in this huge bag that I found in the shed.  They should have enough growing room with 70 litres of compost in there.

Sue xx

Saturday 27 June 2015

Like Two Peas in a Pod

Most of the peas I've grown have been just normal sized and very delicious, and I have to admit that not many have made it into the house as they are a lovely thing to be snacking on when I'm in the polytunnel .... but I thought this one was totally cute :-)

Some of the peas that did make it into the house were added to Ratatoullie.

Tasty with some brown rice.

Hopefully soon I'll have all the ingredients homegrown for next batch of Ratatoullie that I make for the freezer.  I always make a huge pan full because it, and curry freeze so well it would be daft not too.

You can't beat home grown, home made ready meals.

Sue xx

Friday 26 June 2015

Am I looking Any Thinner Then ...... ?

"Am I looking any thinner then? "  Suky seems to be asking in this cute photo taken yesterday.

She's been going to doggy 'Tubby Club' for the last six weeks, although I keep slipping up and calling if Fat Club!!

  With three fortnightly visits under her belt she has now dropped down from 12.1kg to 11.3 kg, not a bad rate at all and the veterinary nurse who runs the class at the vets surgery is really pleased with her.  She's been photographed for her 'before' pictures and she gets measured each time we go, this week she has gone down a total of three centimetres, two from her chest and one from her neck.

The best thing is she is most definitely more sprightly, which is lovely to see.

She'll never be a skinny Pug but we're hoping she will get down to around 8 kg and will feel a whole lot healthier .

Her mum was not a dainty Pug and has the same large shoulders as Suky, but she was definitely a bit smaller and lighter than Suky is at the moment.  This photo is of Suky, me and her mum ... Lady Midnight Star (Suky's full name is Suky Midnight Star after her mum).  Her dad is called Ken, Kenmilleven Graphite, unfortunately I can't find the picture I had of him, but he was a lovely black Pug.

She will never be as tiny as she once was ...

... but I'd like to get her back to this, which was taken two years ago.

But for the moment we are tackling this slowly and surely, and hopefully over the course of the next six months should be able to get her weight down to where we want it to be and more importantly give her back a whole new zest for life.

Now to deal with me and my weight .... I think I need to get back to doing Weight-loss Monday !!

Sue xx

Thursday 25 June 2015

My Three Tomtatoes

The interruption to yesterdays blog writing was when the postman brought these to the door.

My three Tomtato plants, ordered from Thompson and Morgan here.  Mine were on special offer at three for £19.99, so a bit of a bargain too.

I've heard that you get a full crop of good tomatoes but not as many potatoes as you would on a single potato plant, but I don't mind that, it's more about the trialing something new for me and with this being my first year back growing our own food on any scale I thought I would treat us  me.

They came with three packs of plant food, I'm not sure I will need this much according to the instructions on the packets, but it's handy to have it in.  I think if they work out it would be a good plant for someone with limited growing space.  So I'll keep you posted on how they do.

While I finished the blog post the Tomtatoes had a rest after their journey, having a nice drink of cold water in the sink.  (Spellcheck hates this new word, and is insistent that they are tomatoes ..... still it knows it now.)

And did you notice three unusual objects in the top right hand corner of the parcel .... they are dog treats.

I started this when Rosy was a pup to discourage her from running up the farm track after any delivery van as it drove off, by making out the parcels always had something for her as well as me in them she was eager to dash back into the house while I opened them.  She actually watches me now get the treats out of the packet they are kept in and drop them in the parcel .... but she still plays along with the game :-)

Suky's face just says it all doesn't it ..... "Mum why are you photographing the treats when we usually just get to eat them?"

Sue xx

Wednesday 24 June 2015

My Favourite Magazine (or one of them anyway!!)

If you find a magazine that you love it's always worth asking for a subscription to it for your birthday or Christmas, or if that fails simply pay for it yourself up front and have a whole year of reading ready paid for ... and at a much cheaper rate than it would be if you were to be tempted by issue after issue each month.  I bought this subscription myself sometime last year and it's saved me about half of the cover price if I were to pay for it every month.   

I have loved every copy of the magazine that has dropped through my letter box.  With my gardening magazine subscription bought a couple of months ago I have been inundated with freebies, mostly seeds, which will mean we are eating for free out of the poly and net tunnels this time next year, so that was a deal worth doing.

But so far this magazine has had no free gifts .... not that I expected any, but then this issue arrived with something attached.

Four free postcards.

Images of the back covers that have been on the magazine over the last few months.

And I love the back covers of this magazine, I featured one of them on the blog a while ago.

They just stop and make you think.

And are completely my philosophy.

Love it.

And when I took this one I realised, we have the same tiles :-)

I had to break off from this post briefly to answer the door to the postman, it's brilliant when Geraint the Post has to knock at the door it usually means he has something exciting for me. and I had totally forgotten I had ordered this particular parcel.  I'll let you in on what it contained tomorrow, for now I have to go and do a bit of reading about the contents, so I do them justice.  

Unfortunately I don't think I'll find what I need to know from my magazine so I'll save that until later.

Thank you for all the well wishes for my cold yesterday.  To be honest I'm feeling crappier than crappy crap today, ..... and I now have a clown like red nose to add to my woes.  Thank goodness for magazines and surprise parcels eh!!

Sue xx

Tuesday 23 June 2015

Traditional Girl .... or Gadget Girl

Am I a traditional girl or gadget girl .... I was considering this earlier today.

I was sat at the worktop drinking coffee this morning, I've done nothing but drink coffee for the last couple of days.  I have a stinking cold with the most horrendous sore throat and regular cups of coffee and four hourly paracetamols are the only thing keeping me able to talk to the dogs, they don't like it when I croak at them!!  Anyway I was sat there drinking my coffee looking round at the kitchen, the Aga sat there throwing off it's vast amount of heat, usually at this time of year it's too much but when you're feeling under the weather it's somehow very comforting, the jars lined up neatly on the shelves to the left of it.

My wooden spoons in their jug ... "why do you have so many" my younger son asked last time he was here, seemingly he has just one wooden spoon to his name,  well I use different ones for different things I said.  I have favourites that I just do certain things with and some that I will only use for meat dishes.  Anyway to my eye they are every bit as pretty as a jug full of flowers and most certainly much more useful, so I'll stick with my jug full for the foreseeable future.

But alongside the traditional things I have gadgets dotted around the kitchen.  I have the usual electric kettle and toaster, although the Aga can, and sometimes does, fulfill these roles when asked to do so.  I have my food mixer on the worktop with it's component parts of food processor bowl and liquidiser jug hidden in the cupboard alongside the soup maker, Remoska and stick blender.  The soup maker and the Remoska (see HERE for more information about this) get pulled into use when the Aga is switched off for any length of time and have both proved really useful and worth every penny.

But the gadget that is in the most daily use, other than the kettle, is the Nutribullet.  Bought this year and worth it's weight in gold, or maybe more than it's weight in gold, it's not that heavy!!

It whizzes me up a tasty and nutritious drink every morning or any other time of the day that I feel the need for a burst of vitamins and goodness, and that's a lot while I'm full of this bl**dy cold.  It is also pulled into use as a mini food processor when I want to just chop up one onion, make enough cauliflower 'rice' just for me, turn normal sugar into caster sugar for a single recipe etc.

So am I a gadget girl or a traditional girl, well I have to admit to having a foot firmly in both camps .... and being very grateful that I am able to do so.  I'm off to make my tea now and play with my latest new 'toy'  ... a Spiralizer, bought with the intention of making the best possible use out of our soon to be glut of courgettes ..... I'll let you know how I get along with it.  So it's courgetti for tea .... spellcheck even knows how to spell that it seems I didn't   ;-)

What is your favourite gadget at the moment ... the Nutribullet is mine.

Sue xx

Monday 22 June 2015

Cuttings, Days Out and Forgotten Tips

I've been away from the old homestead for a couple of days and this mornings round of checking and watering in the house,  the polytunnel and the pots around the outside of the house,  has had me amazed at the growth that so many things have put on in just those two days.

I pulled the Basil cuttings out of their jam jar of water on the kitchen windowsill to pour some fresh water in and was astonished at this mass of roots.  A bit of potting is called for later today I think.

Out on the hillside I have Courgettes, well one courgette that's recognisably a courgette .... it's not quite as big as you might think at first from this picture, you will realise the size if you spot my finger holding down a leaf at the bottom of the photo .... but it is at least a fully fledged courgette.

 I was worried I might not get any at all in the polytunnel as ALL the flowers up until now have been male, and then this morning I spotted this on one of the polytunnel courgettes, a developing female flower  ... PHEW!!

Visit our grounds and sit by the lake:beautiful in any season © NationalTrust

Whilst I was 'down South' we went to The Vyne for a good look around.  We're trying to get the best possible use out of our National Trust membership and make an effort to visit any house and garden in whichever area we happen to be in.  Although we found this house a bit disappointing compared to some we've been to recently, I loved the recently re-invigorated vegetable gardens, and whilst there noticed something that I used to do but seemed to have forgotten all about.

I quickly rectified my error this morning.  Putting terracotta pots next to most of my Pumpkins and Courgette plants.  It just helps with the watering, rather than wetting the leaves which this sort of plant hates you can water into the plant pot which takes the water down into the soil where the roots are the above ground the leaves are sat on nice dry warm soil.  Why had I forgotten to do something so simple and yet so helpful to the plants .... as Homer would say DUH!!

And look .... while I was planting my flower pots I spotted our first Pumpkin.

I also spotted that I had forgotten to label this bed, so I stuck a new plant label in the plant pot after sinking it into the earth.  The reason for using terracotta pots is because they are porous and on a hot day you can fill them up with water and it will leach slowly into the soil, but you can also do this with plastic pots and even with the top half of empty pop bottles with their lids taken off.  Anything to get the water to the roots of a plant where it is needed is a good idea and stops evaporation of water on the surface, so it means you can use less water, an important consideration if you're on a water meter.

Next to go into my little bashed pewter pot once I've potted up this Basil will be some more Rosemary, I just love the smell of it in the kitchen while it roots.

Did you ever do something easy but useful and then forget all about it until you got a reminder whilst out and about ..... or am I the only forgetful one!!

Sue xx

Sunday 21 June 2015

Eating Through the Stores

We've been eating our way through the cupboards and freezers this month, and although supplies are going down, they are going down very slowly thanks to the amount of times we've been eating out. And also due to the fact that I've spent so many weekends down south with Lovely Hubby in his digs.

When I am here I have been harvesting from the polytunnel and eating fresh salads alongside the veggie options that I have in the freezer.  I had no idea that I had so many Linda McCartney veggie sausages, I have eaten them until they are coming out of my ears and still I have about four boxes left.  They were obviously on a very good offer a while ago!!

None of the vouchers have been used yet, but I think one will have to be this week as I need a few fresh things.

The little quiches in the top picture and here, are made up of things from the freezer, a sheet of frozen shortcrust pastry ...

 a handful of the mixed grated cheese (Cheddar and Red Leicester) and a couple of sliced Basil Pesto cubes, with a whisked up freshly laid couple of eggs poured over and baked in the oven for 25 minutes they made for a lovely couple of meals.

Once with leaves and radishes from the polytunnel alongside some home pickled beetroot from last year and then again the next day with a handful of frozen chips.

The left over pastry was balled up, wrapped in clingfilm and left in the fridge overnight while I had a think about what I wanted to make next.  I decided on a mini Salmon en Croute.  A salmon fillet from the freezer, thawed and then topped with a tablespoon or two of garlic and herb cream cheese, also baked for 25 minutes and eaten with more of the mixed leaves from the polytunnel.  Very tasty!!

And seeing this explains to me why I've not really had to shop yet this month.  Most other meals have been similar to these, mixing ingredients from the freezer, cupboard and polytunnel and coming up with varied and very tasty meals.  But all the milk from the freezer is now either used up or in the fridge so I will have to shop this coming week once the big bottle in the fridge runs out, after all we have to keep the workmen happy!!

There are also things we are simply not replacing ... the biscuits are nearly all gone, when they are they will stay gone.  There are no chocolate bars in the house, save for a couple of large blocks of 85% dark chocolate, which we eat square by square rather than bar by bar, we have decided just don't want to carry on eating biscuits or chocolate bars at the moment.  We have no more potatoes in the bag in the cupboard, but the ones in the polytunnel should be harvestable in a couple of weeks, there is very little frozen spinach for our morning Nutriblasts, but as I said above the perpetual spinach in the polytunnel has gone rampant and that is in daily use now for them.  Once the apples and pears run out I will move onto the frozen fruit that we have as back up.

So we really are doing pretty well on our mammoth use it up marathon.

Sue xx

Saturday 20 June 2015

Sheep in the Field

The homegrown stuff is coming thick and fast now, although these luscious looking strawberries are the last of the polytunnel berries for now.  The Spinach is living up to it's name of 'perpetual spinach',  between me and the chickens we are just about keeping up with it's growth, ah well better to have too much than not enough.

Once again we have Will's sheep in our paddock, just a handful this time three ewes and their four lambs.  Big, burly teenagers that are just about still suckling, but spending most of their days chewing the grass with their mums.

Suky loves them being there but this lot are not quite as friendly as the last lot and won't let her get up close or join in with the grass munching, even though she has shown willing and able and pulls up tufts of grass from a distance while they watch on ... just to show them that she does know what to do.

Rosy and Mavis are still more interested in the rabbits that run out of the paddock as we approach, diving for cover under the stock fencing and nipping sharpish into the woods, than they are in the sheep.

And walking round the field with the dogs is now a case of watching where we put our feet, or in Rosy's case looking for places that are really pooey for a good roll around in the grass.  I didn't realise just how ripe she was getting until I loaded them all into the car this morning to go for a longer walk.

Air freshener just will not cut it ... bathtime it is  ;-)

Sue xx