Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Preparing roast lamb for supper as mentioned below. 
Have to keep my invalid's strength up as today is last day for 'proper' food as he faces the 4th session of chemo tomorrow, after which his appetite takes a nosedive for about a week. Then the 3 week cycle begins again.  La Ronde!

I have set the shoulder on a bed of red and white onions, celery, garlic and rosemary. Lightly pepper and salted the skin. Will serve lamb with onion sauce and mint apple jelly (recipe below if you scroll down far enough). Not forgetting veggies and English pancakes/sugar/lemon for pudding.

NB: Ladies who are looking for pics of my students' Sampler quilts will have to scroll down below Ox Tongue recipe. . . . . 

Happy scrolling!


Monday, March 30, 2009


Hoorah! I see I've acquired a visitor from Oklahoma. Used to live in Davis, Oklahoma and my son was born in Ardmore.  Swam at a creek in Sulphur Springs. Bit smelly but picturesque.
Mostly I remember the oil rigs in lots of backyards (not mine unfortunately) and smell of oil and sulphur.

Re cooking: First set eyes on OKRA bush in garden - wasn't sure at first what to do with the funny little pods - but soon grew to love 'em. 

I trust you have all been flocking to your butchers in search of Ox Tongues. Yes? 
NO??  Admit it's not a pretty sight - but jolly good value for money in this time of recession and very tasty served on sandwiches or with a salad and pickles. 
Some folks like them served hot with creamed potatoes - but am not keen on hot tongue myself and the expression "I got me a hot tongue and a cold shoulder for having a few bevvies on way home from work" springs to mind. 
Rightly so . . . . you naughty boys!

Tomorrow I'm serving roast shoulder of lamb with onion sauce, mint jelly, new Cyprus potatoes, plus lots of veggies.  Followed by English pancakes w lemon and sugar for pudding.

The good news is my invalid gained 5 pounds in weight last week with all the nourishing food I'm providing. The bad news is that I did too!!  
Such is 'loife' as they say in Devon and High Wycombe.


Here are step-by-step instructions for cooking an Ox Tongue. 
Sliced pressed tongue is something  you may have purchased from a delicatessen but shied away from cooking yourself.
It is cheap and the end result is delicious tho' the process may put some of you off. 
Don't be afraid - tongues can't bite.  
Just get the bit between your teeth, gird your loins, and get cracking!!!

i) If the tongue has been brined (ask your butcher) then it needs to be soaked overnight in cold water. If not - then add some salt to the cooking process.

ii) I omitted to mention placing the newly cooked tongue into cold water prior to the skinning process. 

I guess that's it. . . .  all that remains for me to say is 'BON APPETIT!'

Wot is this? Ladies of a sensitive nature may avert their eyes - but have no need to be frightened - it can't hurt you - it's merely an OX TONGUE!!!

That's more like it - less threatening! Washed and ready for pan/stock . . .

Tongue in pan covered with water/onion.garlic/carrot/peppercorns/salt/bay leaf.

Tongue cooking in stock liquid . . . simmer 3 - 4 hours

Carefully remove from pan and drain . . .then into cold water for 2 minutes . .

Remove cooked tongue onto meat board . .

Remove skin from tongue - comes off easily when cooked . .

Fully skinned tongue . . .

Curl tongue into well fitting dish.

Dissolve gelatine in a bit of H2O & add to reduced stock.

Pour dissolved gelatine + reduced stock mixture over tongue.

Ready to be pressed . . .

Press down with saucer or plate to fit dish . . .

weighted down before putting in 'fridge . .

Voila - le finished article . . .

All you need is a clean plate and a bit o' pickle. Yummy!

Tomorrow I cook an Ox Tongue, so tune in for step-by-step pics you lucky people. . .

Beginners Heirloom Sampler workshops - a few pics.

Students on my GPQ Sampler course have one month left to finish their quilts in readiness for GPQ Exhibition to be held on 24 - 26 April at Bilsborrow, Lancs.

Here are some pictures, taken yesterday, showing some of the work. There are 12 members in total - not all the work shown here.

Some of the girls are entering their quilts in national competitions as students on my Beginners courses in the past have won top prizes at national level four years on the trot.
This is marvellous work and I am proud to have been responsible for their tuition.

8 of the 12 disciples - at an early stage.

Marking a dark quilt.

Amish style sampler - plain fabrics.

Julie's Amish style Sampler

Debi's heading for the last roundup with her Midnight Garden.

Pictorial block - reverse appliqué

Just about finished - Marion's Sampler

Almost finished - Sandra's Sampler

work in progress - Margaret's completed blocks

Tea dyed blocks by June

Veronica's first strip . . getting there . . . .

work in progress - Veronica's blocks

Delicate metallic quilting - not to overpower the blocks.

Quilting changes appearance of a simple block

Lilac Time Sampler

B's pretty appliqué sample

Rosy and her Sunset Romance Sampler

Ann with Green Gables Sampler

Jean's Sampler - work in progress

Pictorial block - reverse appliqué

machine embroidery using silver thread

Can't beat a Bernina - especially a 1130 workhorse

Fused appliqué

Veronica and Babs

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Everything came to a standstill.

Eyes much better today thanks to splendid treatment at my surgery. No longer resembling red eyed devil. Can now see enough to bake cakes and do a little light dusting at waist level.

My cake - see below - resembles Mont Blanc but tastes delicious. Can use orange juice in place of Grand Marnier which does lift it out of the ordinary 'drizzle' cake mode.
This is a basic madeira cake recipe used by chefs all over the world. 
Can add anything to it  - barring boot polish - to change flavour.

Bon appetit!

Mont Blanc aka Orange/Almond cut 'n come again cake!

Orange & Almond Cake Recipe

Set oven to 180ºC
Assemble ingredients:
250g butter
250g caster sugar
4 large eggs
250g self raising flour
100g ground almonds
grated zest of large orange
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier or similar (or not).
Slivered almonds for top.

topping: icing sugar and Grand Marnier drizzled over top (or caster sugar in my case) after baking - whilst cake still warm.

Whizz butter and sugar together in food processor for 5 mins. 
Meanwhile prepare - line - cake tin with baking paper.
Add eggs gradually - one at a time - whizz well between each addition.
Add ground almonds/flour/orange zest in one go - pulse for 3 seconds.
Add Grand Marnier.
Pulse for 2 seconds.

Pour into prepared cake tin. Sprinkle flaked almonds on top.
Bake at 180ºC for approx (and I say approx 'cos ovens differ) 45 - 50 minutes till risen and firm.
Whilst warm - drizzle the Grand Marnier/sugar mix over top.

My cake resembles Mount Blanc for some reason. 
Only excuse I can think of is using the small secondary convector oven as element has blown on my fan oven, which is what I usually use. 
Also used my new Duralit processor which is so powerful it could mix cement!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Lilac Sampler Quilt takes shape . . . . .


In order to take my mind off my burning eyes, I stitched the strips of the lilac sampler together this afternoon and it is now beginning to resemble a quilt.

Many experienced quilters scoff at sampler quilts, but they are a great way of teaching beginners the rudiments and basic blocks of patchwork, quilting and appliqué, and they end up with a lovely quilt.

 I mentioned earlier that I am getting ready (and eager) to break out of my comfort zone and have a go at something daring. 
Spent 3 marvellous days with Caryl Bryer Fallert 9 years ago, and she has remained the Queen of artistic quilts ever since, as far as I'm concerned. The mind boggles at her skill and imagination.
I still have some patterns and fabrics from her workshops - thus have a starting point.
Watch this space (once they've sorted my eyes).

Meanwhile it's time to put the kettle on  for a cup of tea and cut a large slice of Almond Cake for my Invalid.  Will have to make another cake tomorrow - simple recipe. Not sure what flavour.  Will post it on my Blog.

SHOES - and a couple of crocks . . .

Clearing out the shoe cupboard(s) is one job I intend to do today.  Have loads of shoes.  Not a fetish, or completely obsessed by shoes, but I have loved pretty shoes in the past, and tho' I am tall, by some quirk of nature have smallish feet of which I am proud.  
However, now that age is taking it's toll, Comfort has taken over from Style thus the glass slippers and suchlike must GO. It's lace-ups and brogues from now on!

Eyes giving me problems today. Left eye been sore and uncomfortable since having laser treatment on my cataracts 4 weeks ago.  Not quite cross-eyed - but almost.

District nurse who is here to see my Invalid - and flush out Hickman Line inserted in his chest for chemo - says telephone the local hospital and ask for consultant's secretary for an appointment. Apparently we can do this under the new Patients Charter. I didn't know one could do this.  Hmm . .  usually have to wait a couple of months - but I'll give it a whirl. 

Judy Garland & Fred Astaire singing: "We're a couple of swells . . " keeps popping into my head, but it's more like "We're a couple of crocks..."  at this moment in time! Hope things improve.

I planned to do some work on my  lilac sampler quilt this afternoon - but as eyes are playing up will have to wait for another day methinks. A bloomin' nuisance as I have a workshop next week and wanted to have it finished to show the students.

It's S. Patrick's today  - the wearing of the green. My young grandson is named after him.    
Happy St Patrick's Day, Patrick!

Monday, March 16, 2009


I stood on the scales this morning -  4 pounds lighter this week. Yes, 4 whole pounds lighter, and that is without Weightwatchers or Rosemary Conley, which I've attended in the past.

All I did was cut out the rubbish - i.e.  cream, butter, fried foods and puddings. Spent half-an-hour daily on The Mat executing simple yoga exercises, stayed away from my sewing machine (yes, I know, but good health comes first) - limited my time on the computer, cleared out clothes and suchlike which kept me on the move.

I won't tell you my starting weight - but will keep you informed as to any progress over the following weeks.  I want to lose another 18 pounds, so wish me luck!

What I have been thinking about this past week, whilst doing mindless jobs, is assessing my quilting work. Up to now have concentrated on simple patchwork - sampler quilts for example and am pretty proficient as far as they are concerned. However, it may be a case of Spring is in the air, but I now feel the need to break out as far as my own quilting is concerned.  I have been studying the fabulous work of some brilliant young (younger than me) artists on the internet, and it has given me itchy feet (and fingers).
I'm not sure where I shall begin - but it'll be sometime soon.

I didn't mention dynamic symmetry of the plant in my old book which gives lessons on the fundamental principles of symmetry as they are found in nature and in Greek art. The Logarithmic Spiral - Law of Phyllotaxis - and explanation of its application to design.
Fascinating and so useful!



Had enough of the Domestic Goddess role. Spent whole day clearing out books - stuff - you name it. 
Realised I was ready for some intellectual stimulus when I discovered an old 1967 teaching book of mine  'Elements of Dynamic Symmetry' at back of book case.
It proved very useful when I took up quilting over 22 years ago and I recommend obtaining a copy if you can find one in your local second hand bookshop.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Feel quite holy (it IS Sunday) having spent majority of the day continuing to clear cupboards and boxes full of all sorts - some interesting - some ready for the bin.
Discovered an old navy velvet evening dress and a very nice fur stole stuffed in a large plastic bag at back of an ancient wardrobe.  Furs are no longer a) in fashion and b) animal rights are very much against it.  I do agree with the latter sentiment, but I must say the stole felt very luxurious and warm when I slipped it round my shoulders and I can understand why furs were so popular in my younger days. We must have had less conscience. Just didn't think about the poor animals.
I understand that East European women still wear furs.

Not sure what I'm going to do with it. No-one will want real fur, will they - so it'll probably go back into the plastic bag and stuffed in the cupboard once more for future generations to discover.

Now have a huge pile of clothes on the landing - ready to go to Hospice charity shop tomorrow.

I feel quite 'light' and this is only the beginning of the clear out. Next job, after I've chucked out all the unwanted clothes, is to start turfing out the drawers. Then it'll be tackling my store of books.  I've so many quilting books I could stock a library. Have shelves full. Have been collecting quilting books for over well over 20 years. Magazines too. 

I'm sure you need to read all this . . . . but it gets it off my chest.  So it's doing me some good.

Oh, that reminds me - there's the fabric in the loft.  . . . . .

More finds from a previous age - fur stole/velvet evening dress/

Manchester United v Liverpool Diet.

Apart from usual sadness in household due to present circumstances, there was a bit of extra doom and gloom due to poor showing of Manchester United against rival Liverpool yesterday.  

I am not exactly a football fan - prefer lacrosse myself - but one must sympathize with those who act as tho'  life depends on their team winning  - wotever there is to win - if you get my drift.  
My Invalid is no exception.

Son and 3 grandsons play rugby, and there is saying, is there not, which goes something like this: 

"Football is a gentleman's game played by ruffians and rugby is a ruffians game played by gentlemen!"  Summat loike 'aat. Nuff said, as she disappears.

However, I did commiserate, and thought Invalid would excuse my total disinterest in Ryan Gibbs and co,  might even obtain some consolation if I cooked his favourite football tea.  
e.g. Fried ham 'n eggs with tomatoes plus wotever else one can pile on a big plate - sausages, mushrooms, baked beans, chips et al. .
Due to present circumstances it had to be a small portion of  ham 'n egg with a tomato.

Now then, you  may well ask, what am I going to eat that will not pile on the pounds?

I had the same. Grilled ham, poached egg and grilled tomato - that's what I had. Nothing else. No pudding - no pancakes - no crumbs of home-made Almond Cake warmed in the M/W with hot custard. 
Not even a Knicker Bocker Glory which I absolutely adore. I could have killed (you know what I mean - merely an expression of longing) for one of those yesterday. Lush! Lush! Tall glass filled to overflowing with 3 flavours of ice-cream, plus fruit cocktail, strawberries, whipped fresh cream, raspberry cordial and anything else I can cram into the glass. Mustn't forget NUTS!!!!  

Feel faint. Must go and lie down.  'The Mat' beckons.


Saturday, March 14, 2009


I am astounded by all the stuff I've collected or kept over the years. Old, but good blouses from M & S bought from Guildford whilst I was teaching in the 1970's - then discovered my grandmother's mink 'thingummy' at back of an old cupboard. Can't throw that out - now can I?
Will make a good burglar alarm together with police whistle hanging on bed post.
Enough to frighten the U No Wots that might lurk under my bed!

Have already filled one massive suitcase to overflowing with clothes and only been at it - if you'll pardon the expression - for a couple of hours or so.  Will take a week at this rate - so my poor old quilting will have to take a back seat. 

My Invalid is watching football - is a Man Utd fan - keeping well out of the way.
Time to take him a cup of tea and large piece of home-made Almond Cake. 
Ah, woe is me - no cake - all that remains for me this afternoon is The Mat.

Gracious! It's my grandmother's old mink. Looks tho' they're fighting. Hope they don't bite!

34 year old blouses - from M & S in Guildford!


Main job for today, apart from seeing to my Invalid's needs, is to clear out clothes that have seen better days. Some are almost antique - Italian stilettos for example -  and have already handed over maxi coats and frocks and fringed minis from the 1960's to my daughter for distribution and fancy dress parties.

I think I might be classed as a hoarder.  Have evening stuff that will never again see the stage or sparkling lights of Broadway and that's just the beginning. 

I daren't mention quilting fabrics stored in the loft for past 20+ years.

Righto - must get cracking . . . . on clothes and then half an hour on The Dreaded Mat when breakfast been digested . . .  O happy day  . . .

Original Italian stilettos - 1964. Size 6! Those were the champagne days . . and these have seen the odd glass or two . . three ..

Late 70's shoes - almost new. Any offers? Size 6!