Sunday, 30 September 2012

Crabapple Jelly

Last week a friend gave me some crabapples from her tree.  I've never had crabapples before, but I was very keen to try a new culinary experience.  I know you can't eat them raw, so I decided to give crabapple jelly a whirl.

After looking up various recipes, I decide on the following method:

Halve the crabapples and put in large pan.  Cover with water, bring the boil and then simmer for about an hour.

Now the fun bit - you have to strain the mixture over night through a muslin cloth.  Luckily, I have loads of muslin cloths.  I bought a big pack of them when I was pregnant because they were on every list of baby essentials, but I never figured out what they were for, hence I still have a big pack of them.  However, I don't have a stand to attach it to over the pan, so I rigged up a seive system:



Then, since recipes seemed to differ on the amount of sugar, I went for a three quarter ratio of sugar to juice. (1 kg of juice to 750g sugar).  Add the juice of half a lemon and then boil on a rolling boil for about 20 minutes until setting point is reached:


Pour into sterilised jars and leave to cool.

Voila:



To be honest, I think it was too much sugar as it seems quite a firm set, so next time I think I'd try a  half sugar to juice ratio.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Remains of a Life

The big thing occupying the WM family at the moment is sorting out MIL's estate.

Luckily she left a will and it's all very straightforward, nothing contentious, but still rules have to be followed.  Paperwork needs to be filled in.  Her car, the house, its contents and her jewellery have had to be valued.  Financial institutions needed to be contacted.  Insurance for the house and contents needed to be changed for unoccupancy.  Utilities and Council Tax sorted out.  Probate applied for.  The usual list of complicated and yet tedious stuff.

We also now need to sort out her house and all its contents before we can put it on the market.

I made a start last weekend, but it's going to be slow progress.

Clothes have been sorted for disposal and I've spent every evening this week washing and ironing decent clothes to send to charity shops.

I've been collecting cardboard boxes from work and boxing up her novels to donate.

Daughter came along to help and made piles of teddies, toys and children's books to be disposed of (the grandchldren are hoping that Nana left them each a teddy in her will - bless.)

Next weekend there'll be five adults and three children sorting out stuff.

The slow, sad process of disposing of a person's life belongings.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Babysitter booked?

Hubby wanted to go to City match tonight, naturally.

I have Chorale rehearsals every Tuesday, which takes prority; if he wants to do something on a Tuesday, he has to arrange a babysitter.  In the past his mum would generally babysit for us, but of course, not anymore.

When I realised this week's clash was coming up, I thought, "I'll see if he sorts out a babysitter".

On Sunday evening he realised that he needed to get a babysitter.

"I'll ask that Brownie leader who babysits for Lisa", he said.

"Good idea", I said.

"What's her name?" he asked.

"Amy", I relpied.

"Do you have her number?" he asked.

"On the noticeboard in the kitchen"

At that point I left to put daughter to bed.

Mistake.

Afterwards I asked him if he'd booked Amy.

"Oh yes", he said, very proudly, "She'll be here at 6.45pm"

"And how's she getting home?" I asked.

"I don't know" he said.

"Where does she live?" I asked.

"I don't know" he said.

"And how much does she charge?" I asked.

You can guess the answer.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Oh what a glorious thing to be......

Yes, I'm a busy bee again.  Back into the swing of things at work and really packing a quart into a pint pot!

This weekend consisted of the following:

  • did four lots of washing and ironed it
  • went on a family day out to Norton Priory
  • sang in a concert
  • took daughter swimming and riding
  • made Sunday lunch
  • peeled and stewed a load of cooking apples from my mum and dad's tree
  • dashed to the Garden Centre to buy spring bulbs
  • supervised homework and piano practice
  • spent an afternoon sorting out MIL's clothes in her house (filled 5 bin bags and have three enormous piles of clothes to launder before sending to charity shop)

Now I'm getting ready to go to work tomorrow...... for a rest!

Friday, 21 September 2012

A Position of Responsibility

Now that daughter is in year 4, they have to take on positions of responsibility.  Their names were pulled out of a hat and they had to choose from a variety of jobs.  Izzy's name was first out of the hat.

"What job did you choose?" I asked.

"Leading the lunch queue", she replied.

"And why that job?" I asked.

"Because I'm then first in the queue for lunch!" she replied, with much gusto.

It figures!

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Birthday Cake

Hubby and daughter decided to repeat last year's success and make me a birthday cake. After hiding themselves away in the kitchen for the entire Sunday afternoon, the cake was finished and hidden away until the big day:




Hubby says he had very little to do with either the baking or decorating; Izzy is now self sufficient at baking cakes.  "Great Brititsh Bake Off " - here she comes!

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

Today is my birthday and as per our departmental tradition, we have to have cake!  Since we are all lemon fans, I decided to make lemon meringue cupcakes:



The cakes are a basic victoria sponge recipe ( 6oz butter, 6 oz sugar, 6 oz flour, 3 eggs whizzed together in a mixer with a few spoons of milk) with some lemon zest stirred into it baked in the oven at 160 degrees C for about 45 - 50 mins (they should sound hollow when tapped on their bottoms!) and then allowed to cool.

After cooling I scooped out a teaspoon of cake from each one and filled with a spoonful of lemon curd.  Then, on the top, I piped Italian meringue:

Put 170g of caster sugar in a saucepan (not non-stick) and cover with water.  Bring to boil slowly.

Meanwhile whisk three egg whites together on a medium speed until light and foamy.

When the sugar has reached the soft ball stage turn the mixer up to high speed and slowly pour the sugar syrup into the egg whites.  Keep whisking for about 15 minutes until the meringue is light and fluffly and the bowl has cooled down a little.  The meringue is now ready to pipe onto the cakes and I finished them with a sprinkle of edible glitter:



(Italian meringue is already cooked by the hot sugar syrup so there is no need to return the cakes to the oven, but it you want a golden colour you can pop them back in the oven for 10 mins or so)


Thursday, 13 September 2012

Stop taking my stuff!!

It doesn't take long to be back to normal at work and along with all the usual 'start of term' hectic jobs, I've had to contend with a few unexpected items:

Last week my printer disappeared from my classroom. 

The computer was replaced with a newer one, but the printer had just disappeared.

A few frantic e-mails to the IT helpdesk and it was located.

"We don't know why it was moved" they said.

Today, I went to the staffroom at break for 15 minutes to get a cup of tea and when I returned.................

....................... my desk had disappeared!

My big, sturdy teacher desk at the front of the room had gone.

In its place was a flimsy old computer desk.

(And my computer sits on a computer desk in another part of the room so I don't need a computer desk)

Oh, and there were six bemused sixth formers sitting behind it watching me fume. 

My old desk was sitting in the corridor, so I went there just in time to catch a caretaker about to take it away.

"Can I have my old desk back, please?" I asked.

"Well, we can only put it back after school" he said, and promptly took it away!

Is it me?