Sunday, 21 December 2014

At Christmas We... Christmas Club

bah humbug
...try very hard to get into the "Christmas Spirit", you know, the mood that old Ebenezer Scrooge was in when morning came and he was still alive.
We usually find ourselves in the sort of mood he was in when he warned Bob Cratchett that he wouldn't get paid for taking the whole day off.............. ok, perhaps not quite as bad as that. It's all the stuff that gets in the way, all the getting ready.
I am nearly old enough now that I can palm everything off onto my kids and let them bring Christmas to me, except that I have a nearly ten year old granddaughter who thinks that it won't be Christmas without dinner at Grandma's table. We are cooking the turkey this year - there see, all the effort and the mathematics working out how long in the oven and what temperature - I used to get paid to work all that out! I'm retired now so why am I still cooking?
Yesterday we went out shopping for "The rest of the stuff" Mr M took only five minutes of driving time before he was muttering about "Drivers and screwdrivers" and "Why aren't they concentrating and watching the lights?" and "What's he looking at on the floor? I bet he's using his phone!"
Costco was full so we had the "I bet she drives her car just like she drives her trolley*" and "Why do they stop in the middle of the aisle and block it for everyone?" and "They always stop just where the thing I want is on the shelf!" and "Well, do you?" This last one is usually referring to something he said while walking slightly in front of me with his head turned away. I have had to train myself not to laugh out loud because "It's not funny".
We stack everything in the back of the car, decide not to go to Farm Foods today as that will just break our spirit totally so we get a large pizza to go and when we get home we spend the rest of the day slowly eating it.
One of these years we'll get everyone to bring Christmas to us and we'll have our breakfast and settle into our chairs and let it all happen... one of these years.................... but not yet.

This is in response to an idea called Christmas Club by Sian over at FromHighInTheSky why not pop over there now you've read this and see who else has added their story

*Shopping cart

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Grandma, you know the treasure chest...

"The green one with the cute tassel for you to open it?"
"yes, I know the one"
"Well, last year it was under the Christmas tree and..." She pauses and chooses her words carefully "I thought we could do it this year and we could put gold coins in there, like last year. I think Mummy has got some at our house."

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how traditions are created.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

The munching........ like the haunting but worse

The Muncher continued to make noise on Tuesday evening. Mr M was dozing in front of his computer and I was reading my kindle in my chair when it began again. I crept out into the hall - tiled floor with carpet runner so no creaking boards to give me away. I could hear it but could not get a definite fix on direction. This means it is munching its way up from the cellar walls down underneath me.
I removed my hard-soled slipper from my foot.
I braced my other hand against the wall.
I banged on the wooden wall of the under-stairs cupboard with the hard-soled slipper then I stepped onto the suspended floor of the breakfast room and stamped hard with the slipper-shod other foot.
Then I banged a few times on the wooden floor with the slipper and shouted "Have this for a headache you munchrat!"

This took just seconds to do and as I was shouting Mr M shot out of the study, wild-eyed and ... I was going to say panic stricken but he never panics so he just looked a bit shocked really ... Oh what the heck! let's use a bit of author licence shall we?
Mr M shot out of the study, wild-eyed and panic stricken "What's wrong! what the he...."
He saw the slipper held tightly in my right hand.
"Oh, still munching eh? well that'll give him a headache"
He turned to go back to his jigsaw on the computer, paused and turned back. "It'll also make our noisy neighbours aware of how sound travels through the walls" He grinned and disappeared into the study.

If it continues we will have to get the rat man back again ~sigh~

Monday, 15 December 2014

Me on Monday - I can hear munching

It's been an empty the pantry and search for rat droppings sort of a weekend - there might have been other things happening but the munching from somewhere around the pantry took precedence.

That is all

Sunday, 14 December 2014

At Christmas we... Buy Cranberry Sauce

the eldest and youngest with their Granny. She has her coffee mug in her hand
and will soon be lighting up the first cigarette. 
At Christmas we.... Always have cranberry sauce to go with the turkey. We buy a jar weeks before and put it in the pantry - or sometimes we put it in the fridge.
Christmas day dawns and we open presents put the turkey in the oven and get the vegetables on the go. Eventually we sit down to eat and we all enjoy our dinner, pulling crackers and wearing silly hats ( perhaps I'll tell the tale of Hannah and the paper hat one day, although without the physical actions it loses a little...). We doze in front of the TV for a while and then play silly games until the small ones collapse in tears of exhaustion.

Some time in the days that follow one of us will go to the pantry or the fridge and move something. "Oh look," we'll say "A jar of cranberry sauce, weren't we meant to have that with the turkey?" then we'll laugh and it will get forgotten until November when we scrape out the contants into the food recycling bin and wash the jar and put it in the glass recycling box and the next time we go shopping we say "Don't forget the cranberry sauce for the turkey".
This is a tradition now, it has to be as we have been performing the ritual every year for the last 34 Christmasses.

This has been written in response to the idea of a Christmas Story Club devised by Sian at FromHighInTheSky. Why not take a look at the other stories now that you've read mine?

Monday, 8 December 2014

Me on Monday - A Shop Local weekend

An Expert.n: A man outstanding in his field
 It was an expert spotting, sign reading, Sugar Loaf snapping, Big Bale Turkey spotting kind of a Shop Local weekend with Admiral Lord Bluefunnel and his Lady coming to us to share dinner for a change.

The expert is actually a scarecrow, but you realised that. Mr M first pulled that pun on me about 30 years ago when he saw a man walking through a field with his dog.
"He must be an expert" he said. I peered through the windows, wondering how he knew. Eventually curiosity got the better of me and I asked
"How do you know?"
"He's out standing in his field so he must be an expert."
I giggled and I still giggle even now. I am fortunate that now I have a camera so I can document these important things.

We went to a Farm Shop called The Salting Stone. They breed and rear their own rare breed pigs and the had a beautiful, boned leg of Welsh pig so we bought it together with some sausages and I couldn't resist taking a picture of the notice.

Then we were off into the unknown... well, not really because the roads in our county are all pretty well known to us. We headed towards Abergavenny pausing to take a picture of our lovely Sugar Loaf Mountain. Doesn't it look dramatic against the backdrop of that huge mountain behind it? Well, that's the funny thing, there is no huge mountain behind it. Not even a small mountain, that is a big cloud bank with a few wispy white ones just to set off the Sugar Loaf properly. I have never seen a cloud like that before and the scary thing is that it didn't do anything to the weather!!

We went around Abergavenny and headed towards Hereford. We didn't stop there either because Mr M was heading for Oakchurch Farm Shop. We needed a few additions for Christmas presents and this was where we were going to find them.

I managed a quick 5mph shot of the big bale turkey on the way in because on the way out I knew that Mr M would be in my sight-line.

From there we pointed the car in the direction of Brecon but we didn't go there either. We turned off at Talgarth, stopped for fish and chips at the Castle Fish bar, but that's a whole other story and I am still too cross to laugh about it and came home. Sunday I vacuum cleaned. I say this with pride because this is the second time I have done it this year. I don't do housework. No, really, I don't do housework but after several years of stupid useless vacuum cleaners I now have a Henry and he sucks up dead leaves that blow in through the door everytime it is opened and he eats the grit and small stones that track in on shoes and he is my kind of cleaner. I might use him more than twice a year, who knows... at least until the bag is full.

I cooked half the pork joint and did roasted vegetables and stuff and Admiral Lord Bluefunnel and Lady Bluefunnel came to dinner. It made a change for them to come to us. Lady Bluefunnel and I tend to think of things at the same time but she is quicker to act than me. While I am forming the idea she will text me and say "Food with us, Sunday?" This time I texted her while Mr M was completing the purchase of the meat. I was able to show the Lord Admiral just how much I have found for his family tree and he was delighted, and then remembered a few more names of cousins and stuff so I have some more names to research now.

Me on Monday was invented by Sian at FromHighInTheSky. My thanks to her for providing a focus that encourages me to write.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

At Christmas We......

used to have the traditional Get-Powell's-cattle-out-of-the-vegetable-garden runaround every Christmas afternoon just about the time when it was beginning to get dark.

I have searched for pictures but there are none. We lived in the country in an old water mill with my parents. Mum and I would cook the dinner we would all sit down to eat - wearing our Christmas finery of course - and afterwards we would ask one another if we should just sit back and doze for a while or should we just change into working clothes ready for the great break in.

We had Christmas there for twelve years and every year, without fail we would hear our own animals making the "Monsters-are-coming-to-eat-us!" noises and there they would be, Mr Powell's steers trampling over the cabbages. They had found the weak spot in the fence even though my Dad would spend Christmas Eve making sure the fences were all strong.

Sometimes I miss the tradition, but not often because I was usually the one that had to go through the ditch to chase the last steer out and I inevitably finished up with more water inside my boots than outside.
Now I am wishing we had pictures

This is all because of an idea by Sian at FromHighinTheSky Why not take a look at her blog now that you've read mine - she has lots of good stuff in hers

Monday, 1 December 2014

Mushroom Curry -- that is so not happening!

A catering career and a lifetime of cooking should have made me sensitive to my instincts about a recipe, you'd think eh?

We went to my youngest son's recently and his lovely wife cooked for us and one of the things she served was the most delicious mushroom curry. I decided I would like to have a go so I googled. A person should always google first and I found lots of recipes but only one where the illustration looked similar to the food we had eaten.

I looked at the ingredients.
Green Cardamom. I confess that I had to google again to see what they looked like and then to see where we could buy them. My son-in-law finally found some in the Marsala Bazaar which is just down the road from here. They have loads of marvellous things in there.
Cloves. What? ok got it
Fresh Ginger, ok we know that. A bit sweet though.
Green Chillies. So not going in my curry as I am allergic to them.
Garam Masala. got it
Chillie powder. got it
Garlic Paste. got it

Then the instructions.
This is where the misgivings began. Something about the fact that one line read "...cook briefly until the raw smell go away"
This would be a problem as my sense of smell has never recovered from the virus of four years ago.

We finally got all the ingredients together, including enough yoghurt before Mr M ate it, so yesterday I made the curry, following the instructions to the letter.
I put it on the plates with the rice.
We both ate one small forkful and while I scraped the plates into the foood recycling bin Mr M ordered chinese to be delivered. The taste of cloves was nearly overpowering but it was off set by the green cardamom. Those two flavours battled with the sharpness of the yoghurt and lost. The only thing that would have changed it were the chillies
The chinese was lovely