Posts Tagged ‘food’

Run-up to Christmas ’08

December 24, 2008

Looks like our heroes are SOL.

A Christmas ornament box *shrug* That’s my seester and me in the photo.

If there’s one thing keeping community halls open in this country it’s the need of the British person (apparently) to hold fundraising events. These events have led to the evolution of a number of games that one must pay to play. We went to a village Christmas Fayre and came out with what are, I have to say, the worst Tombola prizes ever. The chocolate buttons would have been a winner, but for the fact that the box had obviously been opened already and hastily taped shut again.. I’m not sure what’s worse, the Miller beer Joseph won, or the scary finger puppet.

The household naughties in a moment of cute repose.

Nyny’s first choir concert! Look at her stance and her gaping mouth–she’s a natural! 🙂

My pear cheese! It’s got pear schnapps in it or something..I dunno, I saw it in a deli and just needed it!

This we did not need–a pork liver jelly. Afficionados of American 60’s-style Jello side dishes should take heart; their British cousins are keeping the beastly tradition alive and well.

The annual gingerbread day–this is the girls’ cake.

The boys’–I like the snow drifts. Also like Joseph’s bug cookies.

Me screwing up with the camera..looks sorta trippy.

Our Christmas tree (dur)

Owls are way better than angels. Besides, I stuck my swarovski (love) star on the leader.

Joseph appropriated the mantle to display the contents of his Lego advent calendar. I gave up trying to control the decor of the room not long thereafter–to be fair, Joseph has at least as much flair for that sort of thing as I do. He made a very nice little centrepiece with tree clippings and a little bird ornament.

Ha! Caught with a corm! If I haven’t said, we call those packing corn-based pellets ‘corms’..because we’re LOL-idiots. Mittens has been put on a diet and so has taken to inspecting our many packages for these things. He hoards them and snacks on them when he wants food. He also rips open bags of the corn-based cat litter when particularly desperate..poor fattypuss.

Look what we found in a junk shop in Perth! I’m a tacky SOB, so rather than paying the 6 quid to own a bit of my heritage, I just took a picture.

But we did buy these! James was dead impressed to find what he calls my new ‘titchy boots.’ They’re just like his army boots, but, er, titchy! 🙂

Trippy photo of the kids while we’re waiting for the panto to start. We saw The Snow Queen this year.

Merry Christmas from Dynarod–a big hole into the sewage system in the yard, which they won’t likely get to filling in until the new year. 😛

Joseph, defying the homeschooler stereotype of the anti-videogame household. Xbox Lego games are his primary holiday occupation (apart from actual Lego).

Nyssa, performing her primary occupation–devouring books.

Christmas cookie-making, as overseen by Mitu. The messy kitchen would be his fault. *cough*

Hope everyone has a lovely Christmas!


Some peechers..

December 14, 2008

..that didn’t fit in thematically with other photos.

Nyssa and Joseph looking rather gorgeous at Ben and Meg’s wedding.

I need to dig out the rest of the wedding photos. There are some funny ones that document exactly how quickly it was that Nyssa managed to make herself unkempt once she was allowed to.

I bought the little heat pad for me..

Roald Dahl and wine, excellent.

She’s looking much too mature these days, if you ask me.

That’s a bit more like it.

Pumpkin spice cookies with chopped chocolate and galaxy buttons. I dunno, they were very nice.

I post this picture of a tired me to show mom my hat and that I still wear Grandma’s coat.

A most surprising thing–I adore scones with clotted cream. There is nothing attractive at all about the words ‘clotted cream’ but the stuff is gorgeous.

Joseph turned 10 this year. He was quite adamant that we get these candles when he saw them in the shop. Poor kid..

Having gotten some sleep..

October 15, 2008

..morning deliveries notwithstanding..Ugh. Here are pictures from Nyssa’s birthday!

Nyssa grinning in anticipation of trying her bike.

James is good at this. 🙂

I swear, they did manage to be upright at times.

Victory strut.


Birthday lunch–PBJ on white and mac and cheese!

Looks cute enough, but it was a Tesco cake. British supermarket cakes are dry as sawdust. I’ve done this a few times. Even M&S is sub-par. It’s not even like I expect the fantastic shortening-laden creations from back home. After a few years of break from making those insane theme cakes it seems I’ll have to get back in the kitchen, so to speak.

Birthday battle. Battle is a recurring theme in my house 😛

It appears I didn’t really take many photos of her birthday. In a way that’s a good thing–it means things were low key. We’ve all been after that lately.

A few other things..

Harvesting potatoes at the farm yesterday. Kids did good, even with the midgies biting. I’m so itchy today! On the recommendation of Kosmick, Skin So Soft is in the mail!

Tubby cat a tub.

James wasn’t home last night, so I made a classic–tuna casserole. Nyssa was less than impressed. Joseph it ate it all up. I ate the cheesy topping :P.

Mittens posing with my new yarn. I ordered some Christmas crafty presents for Nyssa and Mirasol’s (fair trade!) baby alpaca yarn was deeply discounted. I couldn’t resist, as Grandma R had indicated that it was that sort of fibre that made James’ scarf she made so lovely. I have just a skein of each, so they will probably end up as fingerless mittens or something.** it turns out, Miski is baby llama. How funny that I didn’t notice *boggle*

Poor Nyssa. I think she’s getting sick. The other day she finally decided what to get with her Amazon money (thank you Grandma MK!) and it came today, but she can’t dredge up the energy to be excited and complains of feeling depressed. A combination of missing James and not feeling well, I think. I’ve got a killer headache myself. Why am I sitting at the computer then? The sunshine is warming this spot, and I’ve got a sunsoaked kitty next to me.

Manhattan Chowder

September 26, 2008

When I was pregnant, I lived on Campbell’s Manhattan Clam chowder. I know, it sounds gross, but the broth was spicy enough to help with nausea and the potatoes made it seem like I was actually getting some food down. Anyway, I was thinking about it the other day when I was feeling ugh, and wondered if I couldn’t make a passable vegetarian version. I came up with something that tastes not in the least bit fishy, so I don’t think I can even add a clam in quotes to the recipe title, but James liked it a lot and it has the added benefit of being a slow cooker dish.

1 bunch chopped celery
15 or so small potatoes, chopped (it’s what I had that needed using)
1 can italian style chopped tomatoes
1 1/2 cups V8
1 1/2 cups passata
2/3 cups white wine
2 cups or so weak vegetable stock
2 T worcestershire sauce (biona makes a veggie one)
1 T dried oregano
1 T dried basil
1 1/2 T dried thyme
1/2 t onion powder
tabasco, salt, and pepper to taste

Put the above in the crock pot and turn it on. 😛 Four hours seemed plenty, but that will depend on your machine.


September 4, 2008

I have a very hedonistic love for raspberries and variants thereof. When we moved in I did a sweep of the garden to see if I was lucky enough to have some already growing, but was disappointed. Yesterday I was wandering along the hedge inspecting some rather odd things growing out of it. There are some very exotic flowers that have managed to grow up through the hedge and poke their heads out about 8 feet off the ground. I followed ’round to the street side and was astounded to see this:

There are blackberries growing out of the top of a 10 foot hedge, the fruit dangling tauntingly just out of reach! I fully intend to squirm my way into the hedge to extract them intact. What a world..

Some other things from the last couple days of no kids around..

I always enjoy seeing this sort of thing out my front window. This is our first ever lawnmower, btw. Awwww. It’s a Bosch, but it was 60 quid, but it’s Bosch, but it was freaking 60 quid…this goes through my brain when trying to reason how long this thing is meant to last. Our lawn was totally overgrown, and when I told James to go get the huge Tub Trug to help him gather the grass, he was confident that it wouldn’t be needed. Ha, fool. Or, ha, grownup boy who never had to rake a lawn. Hehe. About three passes across the lawn and the thing needed emptied. And also dug out with a stick. 60 quid mower doesn’t like 10″ high grass.

One side is a perfectly respectable but BORING tomato and olive. The other is my newest sensation: beans on toast pizza. And don’t you dump shredded cheddar on your beans and toast? Yeshhh. James mocked me. And then wanted my pizza. Ha.

I cleaned out my candy box and consolidated it into a box about 12″X18″. Don’t be fooled by scale–those red hots, twizzlers, sour patch kids, etc. are the mammoth sizes. I am a spoilt ex-pat.

I have fantastically nice American in-laws. One night soon I’ll make fries with ranch sauce and root beer floats and watch major league baseball. Woo!

This and that around the house

August 14, 2008

James was gone, and I had found some organic bacon and Pilsbury crescent roll dough at Tesco (I know, wtf?). Couldn’t resist making pigs in a blanket. This is a notable meal in that I haven’t actually cooked raw meat in more than 5 years. I suppose bacon is hard to mess up–put in pan, fry until nearly rock-hard (I love it that way). So these items, along with Minute Maid orange juice, was very reminiscent of things I ate as a kid. So nice, in an artery-hardening sort of way.

This is what I like to see, a man at some sort of labor necessitating a ladder.

Not so much what I like to see–a man coming at me at breakneck speed on a child-sized scooter.

Definitely what I like to see, a shaved husband. Not so sure about the kid-tormenting though..

Hehe, super Ikea dinner–quorn swedish meatballs, boiled buttered potatoes, gravy, and even loganberry jam.

Poor Joseph, doomed to be forever upstaged.

There’s always stuff in the news insinuating that homeschoolers do what they do in order to abuse their kids and escape notice. I point out here that 1. this has been caught on film and 2. not all of the kids packing the baby into the recycling bin are homeschoolers.

The field behind our new doctor’s office. Could almost be Idaho if you squint right..

Aw, the scruffy village charity shop cat. The tag reads, “Tiger’s: do not sell!”

I submit proof that Joseph does know how to swing *and* that he indeed likes it.

Since Mitu has been given the chance to go outside on a lead, he really really really loves going out. Sometimes just to hop up on the windowsill and watch us pull weeds.

Random bit of our garden: it wouldn’t be a Scottish garden without ‘decorative’ thistles.

This is growing near the front door. I don’t know what it is, but it’s beautiful.

Nyssa has to be hosed off before coming inside from gardening. Only we don’t have a hose or indeed a tap (spigot) outside, so this has to do.

Nyssa putting on a puppet show with Einstein and ‘Homorabi’ the cat. She means to say Hammurabi, lol.

Cookie, Einstein, and Hammurabi, the cast of our puppetry. We are freaks.

No joke: 35% rise in gas prices. That’s fine, we just won’t cook or heat the house this winter. Been meaning to give the kids an object lesson in austerity anyway. 😛

A rainbow out the front door, and me having been quick enough to catch it.

James encouraging kitty bad manners. *sigh*

I may have said before that pipe cleaners are the best craft innovation ever. Here we have pipe cleaner Death Star and pipe cleaner Fighter whatsit (Joseph will strangle me for not remembering which). Nyssa in her usual posture of late–engrossed in a book. She was so sweet the other day, she comes to me and starts gushing breathlessly, as though she were speaking of a crush, about how many different sorts of books there are to read and how she loves that there’s always something new and wonderful to learn about, etc. etc. Aw.

Aw, cute, how sweet, etc. He’s also fluffing up my fabric.

This one just makes me giggle. I have this demanding little guy in my face all the time.

Nom nom nom. But FFS, I thought it was expensive enough at 50% off. Can you believe someone is meant to pay the equivalent of $10 for a wee bag of animal crackers??

We met this little kitty named Puisicain at Dobbies Garden Centre. They’re trying to raise money for Glendrick Roost, a sanctuary for rescued, abused and/or unwanted animals. They’re having a hard time at the moment because their leased land has been pulled out from under them to make way for some other more profitable venture. If you know of a location, please contact them. Also, please go and give them a donation. They’re just a wee charity, but they care so much for their animals and do such good.

Am I British yet?

July 5, 2008

I just bought my first pair of wellies:

Thanks to TK Maxx, now I can go splosh about in the creek, sorry, the ‘burn’ at the bottom of our garden. 😀

Getting Joseph to stuff his face is problematic. I let the kids pick where to eat the other day and they, after realizing that McDonalds at that point was yob hell, chose The Pancake Place. We like this place because they do proper american-style pancakes with all sorts of toppings. My waistline dislikes this place for the same reason. So, invariably, we get into the place and Joseph picks up a menu and promptly loses his appetite. Nyssa, on the other hand, orders the biggest, most absurdly piled up plate possible, The Alaskan:

She’s certainly enjoying herself. When Joseph got his plate full of pancake, ice cream, and chocolate, his appetite made a miraculous comeback so it wasn’t all a wash.

I feel the need to point something out with regards to my eating habits; well, one habit in particular as it never fails to elicit weird looks:

I refuse to believe that I’m the only person on the planet who pulls the onions out of the onion rings then happily eats up the breading. In my opinion, the onion is there merely to provide form and flavor. Who actually wants to eat the slimy things??

Um. Oh. (Freak.)

This is me after eating too much pancake and onion ring crust. You can also see that my hair is back to its ‘normal’ red state. It’s got some brown highlights in it as well.

On to some various aspects of our new stomping ground.

There are some ridiculously cute strawberry plants growing along our path. The fruits are pathetic little things, measuring about one centimeter, and more likely to be trodden upon than eaten but they’re lovely. Besides, they might attract bunnies!

Isn’t that nice? It’s a properly old building. Well it would be in the States anyway.

This is our new neighborhood cat. He’s so lazy and lovely. If you coo at him enough he’ll get up and sort of languidly wander over for a cuddle.

The kids checking out the community notice board.

The local shop is pleasantly unskeevy. Well, compared to the other franchise possibilities (*cough*Spar*cough*).

The village clock tower.

Everything is in chaos or in boxes, but the kids have been very upbeat about it, for the most part. Granted, living so close to a public transportation and shopping hub was convenient, but it will be nice to live somewhere where there are fewer than 3 car alarms going off per day and not quite so many drunk people shouting outside the windows.

Organic = world starvation?

March 17, 2008

Further to my blathering about trying to eat ethically..which in itself seems a bit rich, pardon the pun, given that I’m part of a scant percentage of the world population that’s privileged enough to be able to give over the time and money to doing so. Cynical consumer guilt is fun. So, I was reading some criticisms of organic farming. There were some decent points, assuming their facts were accurate. I had always assumed that the state of the world food supply was that we produce enough, but are woefully inefficient at distributing it. Apparently, that’s not the case. The exploding population has, according to some, pushed the need for food to a point that only intensive mono-culture farming can provide enough sustenance. Organic farming comes into an obvious clash with this reality in that it is lower-yield. The proponents of intensive farming argue that by using existing land more aggressively, we are actually preventing deforestation. Organic farmers would counter that they are protecting biodiversity and keeping toxins in the environment to a minimum. I honestly don’t know what to think. Population needs to be managed somehow, but in the meantime people need to be fed. On the other hand, what’s the point of perpetuating the species in the way that we do if our grandkids are to be handed a toxic planet to manage?

From a consumer point of view, I suppose what makes sense is to minimize inefficiency by buying locally-produced food where possible. From a political/social/etc. point of view I don’t know that organic farming will ever be achievable world-wide, but certainly it should be encouraged where practical. I think that ameliorating the myriad issues relating to population will produce the positive gains necessary to make widespread organic farming feasible. For example, people should perhaps consider eating less meat, as the land and water it will free up for feeding other humans will be substantially increased. Where it is not necessary to have large families, more ought to be done to provide access to birth control. Maybe we should be more critical of food pornographers who equate quality of life with meals prepared with ingredients that must be sourced from all over the planet. It also wouldn’t hurt for governments to legislate such that food is treated less as a commodity that is tied to profit and more as a resource that no one should be denied access to, but that requires much more optimism than I’m comfortable with :P.

The price of ethical eating..

March 15, 2008 an internet trawling-induced headache 😛

Anyway. So, James and I have revised our family’s eating standards. For simplicity’s sake, we’ve been ovo-lacto vegetarians, using organics whenever possible (or indeed affordable), for 5+ years. We had a chat, and have decided that it’s acceptable for us to be eating meat as well, as long as it’s from systems that look after both the welfare of animals and the environment. To be honest, if we were to be vegetarian for not-killing-animals reasons, then we should really be vegans. I’ve had a good think and here’s what I make of the animals being killed for our benefit..thing:

PETA makes a distinction between animal welfare and animal rights, which I think is fairly apt. Obviously, they go for the latter in believing that animals are not ours to be used for food, clothing, entertainment, etc. As harsh as it sounds, I don’t believe animals have any inherent rights. Leaving aside my nihilism, in the human construct of rights, those who have them also have duties. A lion doesn’t owe anything to a sheep, and neither can it expect anything from it. I can say the same thing for human babies. What humans have done in order to cope with being social animals with sentience is create the concept of covenantal ethics. We want to be protected, along with our possessions and vulnerable kin, so we create the tit-for-tat rules that promise our good behavior in return for that of our fellow humans. We obviously can’t have that sort of relationship with animals. What we have done is extend our humanity to an empathy for the suffering of other species. I don’t really have any philosophical reason for it, but I fall squarely into this camp. It *bothers* me when people are cruel to animals, and I don’t feel any need to justify this knee-jerk emotional response. I can only assume that better humans (better as in humans I am more likely to want to be around) are nurtured amongst those people who strive to diminish or prevent suffering, no matter who or what is experiencing it. My desire to protect the environment is purely pragmatic–we cannot have a healthy future on a shat-upon planet. So, to the point, I don’t have a problem eating meat if 1. animal welfare standards are observed and 2. it is only occasionally, as raising meat as food is environmentally inefficient.

So, the results of the trawl, most of which was done on Compassion in World Farming’s website. I also took note of the RSPCA’s materials regarding ‘Freedom Foods’, but to be honest they don’t do much to address environmental issues. The same can be said in reverse for some organic food. It’s all very confusing. Any, what follows is a list, mostly for my benefit, of foods that I can source fairly easily. That is, that doesn’t require shipping food here, or taking the series of buses out to the organic farm (I adore the irony that once I get my car my ethical shopping will become much more feasible).

So. From Marks and Spencer:
-all eggs, dairy, beef, lamb, veal, trout, salmon, halibut, chicken, venison, geese and duck, buying their organic and free-range where possible. Apparently their pork has been greatly improved this year, so I suppose that’s on the list as well.

-nobody does ethical quail, though if there was a Waitrose I could have quail eggs.

-Tesco does trout, venison, outdoor reared and bred pork, but labels need to be carefully scanned. The organic eggs and milk are fine, though I should probably be getting my cheese from M&S.

-only free-range or organic turkey, regardless of store.

-there is no local source of ethically slaughtered farmed fish, aside from what was mentioned.

-my guess is that most seafood is off-limits because of the intensive methods used to harvest it, but I shall have to do more reading.

-cat food. Am I likely to find the special diet food my old cat needs in an organic shop? Methinks not. Science Diet it is.

-Eating out–this will require discussion. Obviously we’ll be avoiding the usual perpetrators (as much as I love their shitty food).

-Eating with friends and family. I think the rule will be something along the lines of eating what is offered with a grateful spirit.

So now that that is mostly dealt with, the next item of questionable ethics can come to the fore–I apparently need to be a lot more careful about where I buy my wool/yarn: link. Also, we need to have a think about zoos, animal parks, etc.: link. I really have a hard time with larger animals, roaming predators, primates, many birds, etc. being kept in zoos and parks, but I’m not sure what I think about other species. I just don’t know enough about the welfare of these animals to make an informed opinion. Something to remedy, surely.

Rootbeer and Daleks

February 19, 2008

Nyssa just now, while watching telly: “It looks real but it isn’t. I’m being media smart!” Hehe

As much as it stinks having James away, there are certain benefits. For example, we can eat things that he doesn’t like, namely sloppy joes and anything involving barbeque sauce (I know, I know, freak). Tonight we made root beer floats, another American speciality he abhors. Grandma R was lovely enough to bring along a bottle of root beer concentrate last time she was here. I use a super shortcut recipe that will make hardcore enthusiasts balk (like, short as in dissolving sugar and concentrate in hot water then dumping into sparkling water) but it tastes fine. Cornish clotted cream ice cream makes it lovely. My sort of fusion cuisine ;).

I was quite depressed earlier in the year because I didn’t manage to get Joseph (me) to the Manchester Doctor Who exhibition. As it turns out, there is going to be an even bigger one in London, which will happen to be on the way when we go to the Isle of Wight in April. James’ very best friend forever is finally getting married later in the year, and this is their alternative to bachelor/ette parties. Suits me down to the ground, must say. I haven’t really looked into what there is to do, but I’m fairly certain there will be beds and quiet so I’ll take along knitting and books and be peachy. When we go through London I’d like to take the kids to Camden to buy some weird trinkets and people-watch, but I wonder it’s like post-fire. That really was a shame.