Jun. 20th, 2013 02:30 am
gwyddno: (Default)
I finally got round to doing another PHQ9 just now, while I wait for Mr Smith to finish in the garden and come back in.  The results (scored 0 - 3) are behind the cut.

Results... )This is a definite, if not unexpected, worsening over previous results, due in no small part to our housing situation.

I'm seeing Dr Roberts (GP) tomorrow so I'll discuss these results with her then.
gwyddno: (Default)
In which I witter at length about gardening stuff.

So, yes, Saturday afternoon. .While the rest of the Enleytonment set were ganging up horribly on poor Eve and killing them bloodily many times over, Miriam and I had a weedthrough.

We weren't able to do as much as I'd hoped because of my sciatica but we still managed an impressive amount under the circumstances.  Miriam dug the borders side and back (no mean feat when you realise that she was hoiking out foot-long taproots) and I pootled about doing bits of potting on and transplanting.  The parsley that Elly managed to grow from seed, and the mint both got potted on, and the thyme got planted out.  From the two hairy potatoes we'd brought with us I got about six good chits and those were duly planted in a largish tub by the back door. I  forked over the compost heap (to improve aeration and make it easier for the earthworms to move about, thus speeding up decomposition) pruned the holly tree (took off a side trunk which ought to make a nice staff for Sam) and we attacked the forstyhia (removing suckers and dead wood to allow more light through and give more room for growth).

One of the first jobs this evening was to water the greenhouse.  I now have white raddishes, lolo rosso lettuces, two varieties of lettuce, calabrese, and purple sprouting broccoli and/or leeks germinated,while the rocket which germinated last week has raced ahead.  Even though I'm fairly sure I'll have to resow a lot of things as the cold weather will have prevented them germinating, it's still very pleasing to see any amount of new growth.

I still need to finish digging and tidying the garden, and the greenhouse has an unpleasantly catty smell about it.  I may have to have a word with young Smith.

I may try and call in at Hafal tomorrow just to show my face for five minutes.  I need new boots and Hafal may just reimburse me the cost as it's their stipulation that we wear steel toecaps.

Off to bed now to dream about growing triffids in the greenhouse.
gwyddno: (Default)

Lovely couple of hours in the greenhouse today.  Sowed various heritage tomatoes, some marrows, marigolds (French - apparently they're a good companion plant for a lot of veg), celery, celeriac, sweet peas, and goodness knows what else.  I also gave in to temptation and bought a pack of 50 labels with a pencil.  Up until now I've been cutting up milk containers but the writing doesn't always show up on them, whereas on pristine white, it's quite clear.  It made me feel really organised - which I'm really not.

I repotted the thyme we bought a few weeks ago, and between us, we managed to repot the Christmas tree.  There was no way to save the pot, unfortunately, as the roots had grown through the drainage holes.  The tree now has a mixture of soil and compost in its pot: I hope it won't take that as encouragement to put on a growth spurt!

The garden is still undug but I think I may get at least some of it done before the weekend.

Having a gun attachment on the end of the hose instead of the adjustable nozzle is a huge improvement.  If we can persuade the landlord to allow us to have an outside tap instead of having to use the kitchen sink, I'd be made.  The trouble with mixer taps is that there's just nothing to attach a hosepipe to sensibly, which frequently leads to water spraying everywhere and very short temp
ers. Not ideal.

Just the sweetcorn, beetroor and the legumes to go now, and probably a few more bits of salad and some more flowers.  Having the potatoes in tubs on the patio frees up a huge amount of garden for other crops, and having the greenhouse means I can grow much less hardy plants than otherwise.  Watch this space for offers of surplus plants!

gwyddno: (Default)
Spent a lovely afternoon in the greenhouse.  I'd planned to get the garden dug today but my leg had other ideas so I did some light sowing and planting instead.

I planted two tubs of Marabel mainrtop potatoes (chitted from a pack of four bakers that never got eaten), According to the Potato Council, they boil, mash and roast well and make lovely potato wedges.

I sowed asparagus - an F1 variety whose name I can't remember but I kept the packet, half a tray of leeks and half a tray of summer sprouting broccoli.  The leeks are an interesting variety I discovered on the Real Veg Company's website, called Bleu de Solaise.  The leaves are dark blue but they still taste like leeks.  The broccoli was a bog standard Sutton's variety.  I have a packet of Rachel's Veg late-flowering and some Real Veg Co early-flowering (or vice-versa) so we should have plenty of broccoli :).

As well as that, I made up the chives and basil grow-your-own pots that Miriam fancied in B&Q on the basis that it's impossible to have too many chives or too much basil.

I planted up the Rosemary cuttings that have been on the kitchen windowsill all winter and repotted Em's orchid.  There's nothing to lose with the orchid as she was going to sling it out when she moved so if I can get it to grow in multipurpose compost, I get loads of kudos and if not, well I tried :)

The cold spell has set everything back two or three weeks.  For some things, such as grass and weeds and digging the garden, this is good thing.  For others, such as the rhubarb I'd hoped to be picking for tomorrow, not so good.

If I remember, I want to rake over the surface of the garden before digging this year to gather up all the little stones and bits of assorted crap that have no business being there.

There's plenty of firewood in the trolley in case we manage to have a barbecue this summer, just need to keep the heat well away from the greenhouse!
gwyddno: (Food Porn)
This recipe came about as the result of a kitchen catastrophe: the cheese sauce split. Twice.

Rather than risk the same thing happening a third time, I turned sauce into gratin as follows:

pasta (I used fusilli (twists) but shells would do just as well
grated cheese
English mustard - several teaspoons
Dijon mustard - about a teaspoonful
coarsely ground black pepper
small amount of milk

Cook the pasta as usual.

Slice the bacon 4 or 5 times across and once down the middle (so each rasher yields 8 or 10 dices) and fry until almost crispy.

Drain the pasta, dish up and stir the bacon through it.

Spoon the cheese mixture over the top and put under the grill until it's just browning.

Some of the cheese mix will drip through the pasta, ensuring the flavour reaches the bottom.

Serving suggestions

A sprig of fresh parsley on the top will add colour to an otherwise uninspiring-looking dish.

Rioja goes very well with this dish so there's no reason to suppose a cheaper Tempranillo wouldn't work just as well.


Try stirring chopped, skinned smoked mackerel through the pasta , substituting horseradish sauce for the English mustard and gooseberry jam for the Dijon.

For a vegetarian-friendly (and kosher?) alternative, simply leave out the bacon. You may find adding a little wholegrain mustard helps to add interest the flavour.
gwyddno: (Food Porn)
Or Qualis in their nest.

Serves 2
2 quail (oven-ready)
bacon (I used unsmoked back but dry-cured streaky would be better)
1 Large baking potato
Potatoes for mashing
Red wine
Spring Onion

Wash the baking potato well. Scoop out the flesh until you have just a few millimetres (about 1/4 inch) of potato left on the skin. Rinse the starch out, brush both sides with olive oil, place on a baking tray and season with salt and cracked black pepper.

Stuff the quails with a little diced bacon and grapes (2 or 3 per bird). Cover the breasts with slices of bacon and place in an oven-proof dish with chopped spring onion, finely chopped garlic and red wine. You could also add a few grapes halved if the fancy should take you. Any remaining bacon can be added to the pan.

Bake the quail and the potato skins in a preheated oven (200C/180 Fan, 400 F, Gas 6) for about 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, boil and mash the flesh scooped out of the potato skins, and the remaining potatoes. Add butter, salt and cracked black pepper and strong cheddar. Stir in a good teaspoonful of English mustard and the same of wholegrain. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Take the quail out of the oven and leave to rest while you make the sauce.

To the liquid in the pan, add another good glug of red wine and a teaspoonful or so of Dijon mustard. Stir well and allow to simmer while you assemble the quails' nests.

Plate up the potato shells then place the quail in them. Spoon over a small amount of the sauce. Serve the mash and the remaining sauce.

I served it with corn on the cob and carrot batons.
gwyddno: (Food Porn)
Miriam has been nagging me to make more use of LJ as a place to store recipes, cooking adventures and the like.   In the interests of nag avoidance, I have concurred.  I start with today.

Lunch was simple enough: smoked mackerel fillets with grated carrot, chopped spring onions and fresh rocket from the garden with a dressing of black truffle oil and blackcurrant balsamic vinegar.  

Supper was the last of the pork steaks and ribs fried in butter and oil.  The sauce (Cheri Ackey, Terry's wife, tonight) started with the leftover grated carrot, finely chopped onion and garlic fried gently.  Add honey, soy, cheap cream sherry, five-spice, and a little blackcurrant vinegar.  

I think the Cherry Ackey was a huge improvement on the Terry Ackey, and I think the garlic was the deciding factor.
gwyddno: (Default)
It comes to my notice that the Virginian colonies have installed a new leader: a Kenyan chap by the name of Obama.  Black, by all accounts.  Well, jolly good luck to him.  I fear he may need all the luck he can get.

All is not doom and gloom, however.  In his first days in the job, this new chap has done much to restore a man's faith in the colonists' government as the last idiot - Shrub? Plant? ... Bush, that's the chappy -  did to make me despair.  He's ordered that the detention centre at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba must be closed and he's declared that torturing people is not really cricket. 

He's also announced that the colonial government will be funding research into the medicinal uses of stem-cells and repealed the ban on aid organisations offering balanced family planning advice to women in poor countries.   Let us hope that by the time he retires, the men and women with the red necks will have found the maturity to realise that these must not be overturned. 

I believe he has also requested the legislative assembly to pass a law giving equal pay and equal service to men, women, queers and the-gods-know-who else regardless of colour or creed.  One is tempted to ask why the colonials took so long to recognise this need, however I shall not, as the saying goes, rain on Mr Obama's parade.  I shall instead confine myself to welcoming these developments, however overdue.  One can only hope that Mr Obama will make the most of his time in office to restore some real social justice to the colonies.

Welcome, President Obama.


gwyddno: (Default)

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