Saturday, 29 October 2011

Food Festival!

Today and tomorrow our tow.... sorry city, is holding a food festival. We thought we'd take a look. By we I mean my daughter and son-in-law, my granddaughter and me. Mr M doesn't do walking. At least not walking for a long distance. Not without painkillers and a walking stick. So he stayed home while we walked into the city centre (about ten minutes away) to look for this here food festival.
son in law in the background behind a rainspot on the lens
You would think that after they have promoted the event in the local paper and printed little booklets about it, that the council might have put up a sign or two, just to show us where things are. NO. We knew that there would be something upstairs in the market simply because there always is something upstairs in the market. When we arrived downstairs in the market there were no clues. We arrived upstairs at the end of a cookery demonstration. My daughter claimed the prize for spotting a chef when he wasn't in his cheffing clothes - she saw the man from the Hardwick restaurant.
the nice lady spent two years at ballooniversity in airshire learning to make Ariel the mermaid.
There were good things to try and lots of stalls in the main street. Chilli jam, chocolate brownies, lots of different jams and jellies and marmalades, breads and seeds and spices and Caribbean food as well as pies and cupcakes and a giant lobster on a cart.

"It's an Air lobster, Grandma, it's not real"
"It's not just an Air Lobster, it's an M&S Air Lobster" at least that's what my daughter said because it is outside our soon to be gone branch of M&S

We did enjoy it even if the walking has made my sciatica really hurt now. It was worth it.

I was thinking about saving my 100th post for the Storytelling Sunday but that's a whole week away and I couldn't wait once the Air Lobster was in the camera

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Apple Chutney, mmmmmmm

Today I made Apple Chutney. Mr M was given a big bag of cooking apples by one of the drivers that regularly comes to his weighbridge - did I tell you that Mr M works on the weighbridge at the local Electrical Steel works? Well he does and there are several lorry drivers that come into the works regularly to collevt loads of steel. One of them lives in the Forest of Dean and Mr M has known him for several years.

Anyway, he gave us a big bag of cooking apples. More than 3 kilos so I made a rhubarb and apple crumble and decided to use the rest of the apples in a chutney as we were down to our last jar from the previous batch made in 2009. Can I just say here that I don't like chutney. I never put it on my food and the only time I taste it is when I cook it - and I can't even do that without a sense of taste these days.

As I started to peel the apples I suddenly thought that I should take pictures, so I did. I forgot to take pictures when it was cooked though and just bunged it straight into the jars. I will take pictures of the jars when I have finished here and try and get Mr M when he is tasting it.

I have just realised the first picture looks a bit weird because you can't clearly see what is in the tray of the mincer. It's the onion. The recipe suggests that mincing the onion allows the flavour to be released more quickly and easily. I am assured that this is the case by people who have tried previous batches.

I got the recipe from and I have adapted it to make Apple and Damson Chutney in the past. That didn't last very long even though I made 8 jars of it. I have used second hand jars that previously held pickled onions or relish or stuff like that. They all have plastic lined lids which is so important with pickles because the vinegar evaporates through paper tops and will eat its way through exposed metal lids. I also made some blueberry muffins, using the last of the frozen blueberries. The juice makes the muffins really blue, and as I use Splenda instead of sugar so that Mr M can eat more than one should he so wish, this makes the muffins a really strange colour because without sugar the cakes don't go such a brown colour. Mr M say he doesn't mind what colour they are as long as he can have one after his dinner as a treat.
I have also had two six year-olds popping in and out all day. Miss M has had a friend to play and she has been doing that showing off thing that we all did when we were six. "This is my Grandma, she has chickens, come and see" and then she marched through the house like she owns it because it is her Grandma's house. She was so thrilled when I pointed to the Blueberry Muffins and off they went quite happily to show Mummy.

Just to add a little icing to the day. I received a book this morning from a fellow bookcrosser. It is shaping up to be a good read too. I'll report more when I finish it.
A good day I feel.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Legoland, the final installment

I was going to save this for the next Story-telling Sunday but I couldn't wait and I thought of a good one for that so here is the final installment of our trip to Legoland in Billund.

I had left us after the Viking had assisted in retrieving the keys from the boot of the car. We quickly clambered into the car and left Legoland car-park. We needed to find a hotel and get a meal. Remember we speak no Danish and between us we can order beer and bratwurst and chips in German. We drove along the road and came to a place called Vandel, I kid you not! the car was full of Vandal jokes, all bad and all instantly forgettable when we spotted a sign for a hotel.
Mr M when he was much younger
The receptionist spoke really good english and assured us that they had two double rooms, available. We signed in and picked up our bags and were shown to the rooms. Smudge and Nettie had two single beds pushed together while Mr M and I had two single beds along one wall of a long narrow room. There was only one pillow on each bed but the sheets were clean and so was the room.
We met up with Nettie and Smudge and asked the receptionist if they had a restaurant. It was shut. Of course it was, for goodness sake this was the tourist season and it was pretty late, seven o'clock! I asked if there was anywhere we could get a meal. She said yes there was a grill bar just along the road. I noticed Smudge's face during this conversation and wondered what had caused him to go expressionless. He does this thing when he is under pressure or doesn't want to do something, where his face just shuts down and he kind of battens down the hatches. So difficult to describe it.
Anyway, the nice lady gave me directions and off we trotted. Mr M and I took the lead and in a few minutes we saw the sign.
"look," I said, "Grill Bar, just like she said."
Me when I was young and skinny (newly in love) good grief
look at that hair!
"Thank goodness for that" said Smudge "I thought she said Gay Bar, and I thought I'm not that hungry."
"I gave him a look that said his prejudice was showing and he explained that he just wanted to sit and eat quietly and the gay bars in Germany can be very rowdy and noisy so I forgave him.
We went in and through pointing and nodding we ordered burgers and chips and drinks. The minimum age for drinking in Denmark is 21 and you have to show ID so there were several teenagers in there wearing cowboy boots and tight jeans and drinking milk shakes. There was a juke box in the corner and one of the lads was feeding it coins.
I pulled out the money and raised my eyebrows at the lady in the universal method of asking how much, she rattled off something in rapid-fire Danish and as I stared at her blankly Smudge said twenty eight seventy five. I was so impressed that he had learnt to count in Danish and as we went to the table I said so. "Thank's Mum" he said, "but I read it on the till."
As we ate the music began to play. Now all fans of The Blues Brothers will recognise this quote "They have both kinds, Country and Western". We listened fascinated to You picked a Fine time to Leave me Lucille and other Kenny Rogers hits IN DANISH.
The rest of the holiday was a bit of an anticlimax really, except for two American gentlemen who appeared at breakfast the next morning and Talked about toothache, rootcanals and infections and everything else designed to put intrepid-I've-been-to-Legoland Mr M off his breakfast but they were too late, he was on his second plateful.

So there it is.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

The Viking and the Car keys

I promised I would tell you about the viking and the car keys as a follow on to last month's story about our trip to Legoland in Billund, Denmark. Are you sitting comforably? Then I'll begin.

We had been up since silly o'clock in the morning, travelled across northern Germany and half way up Denmark. Paused for lunch and then tackled the amazements that are Legoland. We survived the disappointment of no Rocket and panned for gold in Legorado. The park was closing and we were being herded unobtrusively to the exit.
We wandered across the nearly empty car-park to where the Taunus stood in solitary state, its nearect companion a camper van about 20 yards away. Smudge opened the car and then went to the boot where he had a large can of fuel - I know, but this was twenty years ago and he was in the army and got a special price for fuel in Germany. He put the funnel into the petrol tank opening and transferred the fuel from the can to the tank safely. he had put the petrol tank top onto the boot-lid and after replacing the can into the boot he shut the boot to reach the top for the tank.
And that's when we realised that the keys were in the boot.
The car park was empty except for the camper van where there was no movement. Smudge decided to go to the garage just outside the carpark to get a piece of wir or something to break into the car.
He came back with a viking.
The young man was about seven feet tall with shoulders that fitted his height. He had the most incredibly blue eyes and shoulder length blond hair. He was wearing dark blue overalls and the most enormous boots. They were almost clown boots but we just knew that his feet went all the way to the end. He did not speak any english or German. Smudge spoke a little German, he was in the army afterall so he could count to twenty and order that many glasses of beer and could visit a schnelle-Imbis and order sausege and chips. I spoke a little German - all those night school classes came in handy but explaining that the car keys were locked in the boot. There we were with the doors open but no way of getting the car moving and no access to the keys in the boot.
He mimed to us what he would do. He pointed at Mr M and mimed what he would be required to do and then he pointed at Smudge and mimed what he would have to do to get the keys. They looked at each other and nodded.
We have a two door car, both doors open. Into this climbs Smudge who places himself in the middle of the car, facing the back with his legs tucked under him balaced and ready. The Viking entered the car from the offside, leaned right in and grasped the bottom of the back of the rear seat. Mr M did the same. Together they pulled and lifted. As soon as the gap was wide wnough for a small snake to go through Smudge seemed to make himself long and thin and in he went. He knew exactly where the keys were and was able to grab them. Nettie and I were ready and as soon as he began to wriggle backwards we each grabbed a leg and gently helped him slide out. HIs T-shirt had been pulled over his head and there were several angry red marks where the metal springs from the seat had squeezed him but we were able now to drive to the hotel!
We thanked the Viking and tried to give him some money. He refused to accept it and made it clear that it had been very funny and he would dine out on this for months.

This story has been brought to you by Sian at High in The Sky