Friday, March 29, 2013

No Cook Porridge Cereal

My daughter and I just sooooo love porridge in the morning. Porridge and oats are so good for you. Porridge is rich in fibre which is good for bowel function  ( including soluble fibre which is also good for helping reducing cholesterol levels) and is rich in vitamins and minerals. It is also classified as a low glycaemic food which means that it releases sugars slowly  and so keeps you satiated longer.

My new job means that some mornings I am at work ridiculously early and so need to have my breakfast there. I have tried eating before setting off but I end up ravenously hungry all day. I have since realised that sticking to normal eating patterns is the best way forward.

I have tried taking the little sachets of quick cook flavoured porridges ( and my what a selection there is of them, a lot  are very sweet and some taste very artificial) but I started to think that I would be better off making my own mixes and taking them to work.

 I had a quick look to see what there is on the internet and I found quite a lot of interesting posts about precisely this.  Having read this article  How to make perfect porridge from The Guardian I decided to opt for pin head or steel cut Irish oatmeal as it seems to give better flavour and texture.

Once in the supermarket it was quite difficult to see which oats were going to be the ones I wanted as most of the boxes didn't have transparent windows.  In the end I went for The Oatmeal made by Rude Health  which is a mixture of pinhead and medium grade oatmeal. I'm hoping this will give a creamy porridge with some texture.
 Today I thought I would prepare a no cook overnight porridge oats and having looked online, this is what I did:
1 cup of pinhead/ medium oatmeal
2 cups of milk
A sprinkle of cinnamon
A sprinkle of ginger
A teaspoon of runny honey
Some chopped dates

I placed all the ingredients in my new microwaveable mug which has a handy clip-on ( no spill so far) lid and will leave it  overnight. Hopefully the oatmeal  will absorb some of the liquid and will soften to a slightly chewy texture- I do hope so as it will be my breakfast tomorrow. All I need to do  now is to remember to pick it up in the morning. I will take some extra granola and raisins to sprinkle on top just before serving.

If all else fails and it is still sloppy in the morning I will  probably microwave it for a couple of minutes- to turn it into a hot porridge.

Later this weekend I will have a go at using the oatmeal to make a proper hot porridge and I will let you know how it goes!!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Parents night- a night of roller coaster emotions!

Parents night comes round far to quickly for my liking. Having two now at university does allow us some relief. However we do still have two at home and although they are at college, we are called- no -"invited in" to see the tutors when there is " cause for concern".
My Spanish Exercise book circa 1974- in the days when covered books with wallpaper remnants!

I can't believe I am letting you look at my exercise book!

We even used real ink!

 We also wasted nothing - this book is full of spanish, and in the spaces : Richard 11 notes, Silas Marner notes and even  some genetics for biology !

 I think my fear or dread of this most tortuous of nights dates back far into my past - where comments were often-" Miss O ( my maiden name) could do better......... It would help if Miss O concentrated and didn't gaze out of the window............or even if she brought in her homework..........."
I positively detested those evenings- I did so hate disappointing my parents.

These days I still hate them but now from the view point from the other side of the fence.  How often I have attended all happy faced and smiley wondering what wonderful things my precious child has done only to hear that history is sort of repeating itself! In fact if a teacher reports something wonderful or is glowing about my child ( and this does happen despite my previous comments) I positively fill up with tears as I become immensely proud. It is an evening of roller coaster emotions.

A  hand drawn map of where we were going to meet on a trip- no sat nav then !

 Does the term "Parents Night " give you nightmares or did you or  have you had better experiences ?

Ohh and also some French!

 For my part this is one evening after which a large glass of something cool white and made from fermented grape is called for! and I am off to find my glass and the fridge!

Monday, March 25, 2013

New Job!

I started a new job at the end of February and I am still settling in. It means longer days  at work  and more time at home. Its the early starts that I'm still getting used to - I am slowly getting to trust the alarm clock to wake me up in time to get to work. I am having to be firm with myself not to check the clock every hour!
I have found the last month pretty tiring - not only due to the long days but there is also the initial adrenaline rush and the subsequent  dip in energy. Other members of staff also started at the same time - most of these hadn't worked in this environment before and so there was a lot of learning going on. Needless to say we are all settling in nicely  and with the days getting longer - getting up shouldn't be a problem!
I need to look at my energy levels though. On my long days at work I could eat for England and have eaten my breakfast and lunch by 10.30 and then want my supper at 2.30 pm. I have now found it better to keep my meals at the normal times and to snack in between and this seems to work better.

I have also made trips to see the young people in University - one to Coventry and one to Canterbury. Both trips are do able in about 2 hours each way.   I just point my little car in the right direction and off she goes!
We also have had some bad news in the family, my uncle died ( My Dad's  brother)  It was lovely (obviously sad) in that both my sisters and I and my Mum and Dad attended. I hadn't seen my cousins in about 20 odd years and it really hit me that this was an end of an era. It was quite apparent that we were no longer young twenty somethings despite how we may feel like  inside. It was a good do and my Uncle had a good send off. My funereal antenna must have been working on overtime because everything this week on T.V and radio seem to  have alluded to funerals and dying.

On a happier note I did however manage a trip down to the poor old allotment. I say poor - because every time I plan to spend some time there either the weather or another event puts a stop to my trip!. On Thursday - the weather forecast wasn't looking good. I desperately needed to get out in the fresh air and so I took a chance. The raspberries didn't do well last year. They were choked out with couch grass  and very neglected. I managed to clear the whole bed of the grass and just finished in time for lunch and rain!
Started- all that grass has to go!

Getting there!
 The middle area of the raspberries is looking very depleted and so I think I will try replanting some of the new outer growths there- after I have dug in some good well rotted compost and manure. I am mightily relieved that I have managed to clear the area. Hopefully we will have better rasps this year!
At long last finished

My next task is to sort the strawberry beds - these are also blighted by the encroaching couch grass. I think I will lift the strawberry plants out, remove the grass and the roots, add manure and compost ,  use weed suppressing membrane and replant the strawberry plants through it. Hopefully I will be able to cover this with straw or bark chipping. A job for over the Easter weekend I think.

 Hoping the weather isn't too bad where you are and fingers crossed that this week brings warmer weather.........

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Alresford Steam Gala

You may have heard of the Watercress line. This is a steam railway line which is run by volunteers. In its hay day the steam trains carried Watercress from the local farms up to London or as it probably was then - "the Big Smoke".

The train line at one point went from Winchester across country to the market town of Alton. Nowadays the trainline ends at Alresford. The trainline from Alresford to Winchester disappeared a number of years ago and is gradually being repurposed as time goes by.

This week end gone was one of their Steam gala events. People come far and wide to attend and wonder at the steam and the engines from a bygone era.

 We have a lot of fun memories of these trains. When the children were little we lived right next door to the train line

 The children were able to watch the trains from the back bedroom window and inevitably my son as a young child became a train lover.

 The steam line provided him with many years of voluntary work and gave him valuable experience as a teenager. He worked on the platforms, helped in the signal box, helped restore and even clean out the trains. Many a time he came home black with soot from head to toe!

It was this experience that sent him down the engineering route as a career.

 The teashop on the platform provided us with many an hour of entertainment when the children were small. We could sit at the tables outside and sip tea and juice and watch the hustle and bustle in the warm sunshine.

The tearooms had that damp old fashioned smell which reminded me of Lake District holidays when I was a child - but thats another story!

The Watercress line have lots of events all year round- so if you are close by why don't you pop in and take a look!

P.s Apologies for the quality of the photos- I took them on my phone which I recently dropped- hence the poor quality.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

My two week shop window

Some time ago - early in 2012 in fact - I booked the window in our local library- for a small rental fee .
 It was after Christmas - in those dark and grey days when I thought why not? And to be truthful I had totally forgotten about it until the middle of February this year when someone mentioned half term.   There was that awful moment when I suddenly remembered that rash booking and I panicked thinking I had nothing to put in the window! I needn't of worried- once I started looking I had more than I thought to display!

 The end of the two weeks is nearly up and I have been delighted to see the number of people who have  stopped to take a look!
 I have been decanting again - this time Mirabelle plum brandy! I made it two summers ago using the beautiful small little yellow plums and a not very expensive brandy. It wasn't quite ready last summer - it was still a little harsh but my how smooth it is now- with lovely plummy/prune y undertones.

Delicious!- Mr H is not so fond of it - plenty more for me I say.

I think he had made a decision not to like it before he even tasted it. He is not really a fruit liker so I should't have been surprised when he pronounced his verdict.

Its still very chilly here but quite sunny this afternoon. Tomorrow is also looking good so I am looking forward to making a long awaited trip to the allotment to catch up on some digging and perhaps a little plum brandy when I return! Hoping you manage to catch some fresh air too..........