Yesterday’s Blog

Well what about yesterday’s blog? I tried to write yesterday in the afternoon. Thor kept coming up and chat, chat, chat. That is, between the snot, snot, snot.

There were occasional screams from Caleb and Aaliyah kept interrupting, showing me her dress a baby rabbit on her iPad (Amritsar’s Old Lenovo tablet). I was trying to write about burnt sugar. Don’t ask, yesterday seems a while back now. The interruptions did not stop when Tara and Amritsar arrived home with Sindy. I closed the World Press app imagining that my writings would be saved, but when I went back after the children’s dinner had been consumed, the writing has vanished within the ether! I should of course have started again from scratch, but rather that, I chose to open a bottle of wine and snuggle in with the hounds. Well there you have it. John rushed in and straight back out as there was a residents meeting of the freeholders and wasn’t back until ten o’clock, when we finally got to eat dinner (spaghetti and meatballs). At present I am sat on the train, Sindy having dropped me at the station. The sun is shining brilliantly, but it is freezing outside. We had a light dusting of snow yesterday evening and the children loved the sight of it this morning. Do you remember as a child, the treat of seeing snowfall in the U.K. Wasn’t it such a rare treat? There is snow forecast for tomorrow, but sadly not so in London. I will miss the children revealing on the carpet of icy white dust tomorrow after school. Sindy has even procured a sledge for them to play on. Lucky them!

No Dadda No, I will be good, I want to be good

These were words echoed throughout the past week from each of the little ones (Thor, Aaliyah and Caleb)! Why you might ask? Well there has been the underlying threat of starting this week at ‘Mrs Snodgrass’s Naughty School’. All three were told on Wednesday of last week that their behaviour had to get better or they would start this week with The fabled Mrs Snodgrass. Hence they have by in large, tried to be better behaved, but can a leopard change its spots? Hmmmh, me thinks not, though there is hope as I am a firm believer that you can teach an old dog a new trick. Remus and Gracie are proof of that. Remus was five and Gracie just two when I taught them how to ‘SPIN’ and OMG, when they spin, they do it for England! They could also spin the socks off of the Northern African ‘Dervish’. I will try to video them at play and show it in a blog next week maybe. Anyhow, back to the little ones behavioural changes! No – they did not start the week at ‘Naughty School’, rather their usual preschool. The ultimatum was that if they did not try to be good (or at least better behaved), Mrs Snodgrass would be called last night (Sunday) to finalise the three places for an immediate start. Their behaviour last week slowly began to look promising, but remember that they are only three and four years old, so this whole fiction is basically the ultimate in deterrent. There has been some ups (with such well behaved children) and a few downs also where They have all pushed or hit or screamed at each other (I think biting has finally been eradicated). I guess that these three things are only ever directed at each other and not us, their parents, it is a good thing as it shows that they do have certain limitations. There are those children out there who do try to bully their own parents. So it’s not so bad really. Back to last night, they were all commended after their bath for (overall) being so well behaved and I faked a phone call to Mrs Snodgrass saying that we did not need to start ‘Naughty School’ after all. They were very happy and all went off to bed smiling.

The Three Year Old Cold

Doing the maths on this one, I can truly say that with the girls sixth birthday coming up in March, I have pretty much had a cold for the last three years. They started preschool three years ago and that’s when this cold began. You know the way that children suck and chew on pretty much all toys and share them around with all of the their fellow preschool attendees, well even with the girls at big school and the fact that they are more akin to washing hands and not sharing small plastic objects coated in bacteria with everyone, we still have the three little ones doing just that! I wash my hands at least forty times daily. I scrub the kitchen table at least twice and to be honest, although I don’t get stomach problems, I guess cold viruses are just too virulent. One cold leads on after another and so on. Looking at most old photos of our guys when they were preschool age, almost all of them have runny noses. Thor seems to be the worst, it’s just one cold after another. Recently his nose has just been a snot factory and when it runs, sometimes it almost reaches his chin if unnoticed for even twenty minutes. It is only the month of August that everyone seems to be healthy and without a cold. I am hoping that with them all at big school in September, the sheer volume of this will quieten down to a trickle. I really hope so. I’m tired of coughing and sneezing and blowing my nose and the sore throat. Roll on September.

All Quiet in the House (Finally)

They have finally subsided and crashed due to exhaustion. Earlier I went up to see how Thor was and ended up bringing down the three little ones as they had no intention at all to have their nap! Remember the last time that I left them to their own devices, they trashed Tara and Amritsar’s ‘precious things’. So we all had an afternoon of it and broke open a packet of shortbread. The girls were dropped off at three thirty on a slight sugar high as someone brought in sweets for everyone as there was a birthday in their class. Tara and Amritsar shared what was remaining, so by the time dinner was over they all stepped up a level and ran around like crazies until I said ‘I’ve had enough’ and ‘Early bedtime’ at six o’clock. To be honest, I was lucky to get back downstairs with my sanity still intact. There were some nappies we had with bananas printed on them. They all wanted to covet them as well as wear them, Thor with his pants on his head and Aaliyah stole a pair of Tara’s nickers from the washing dryer and ran around like Thor screaming like a lunatic. Tara insisted on watching a video on my phone from when she was around Aaliyah and Caleb’s age where she would repeat herself again and again with the same words. ‘I want a nanna, I want a nanna’ That is all she was whining. I will play it for you now.

She is so much more grown up now and they all laughed at the video (lots). It makes me realise the difference in behaviour in just these last two years in her – holy mother there is hope for the three little ones… we will get there. Just two more years of naughtiness…

Victoria Plum Jam

Okay Victoria, this ones for you! The most basic recipe for jam is plum jam. It is the easiest and quite simply, one of the best. The darkness of the outcome is dependent on the ripeness of the plums. Two punnets ended up being 700g once halved and the pits removed. Into a pan (no water), just several squeezes of pre squeezed lemon juice from a bottle. Gently bring up to the boil.

You want the fruit to boil down for ten minutes, stirring occasionally.

Once your mixture looks a little stewed, now is the time to add 700g sugar. Please note NO pectin is needed for plum jam as plums are naturally very high in pectin. Cook on for another ten minutes. Your jam will become more glossy and translucent.

Skim the top to remove any of the scum that forms as and when. When it starts to look a little more gelatinous after maybe ten more minutes, you will find it falls from a wooden spoon less rapidly. It will kind of hold together a little. Do not cook (in total) for more than 30 minutes. If you do the jam will take on a heavy, jammy taste that is not so good. You don’t want to overcook your sweet nectar. This is the time to remove any remaining, whitish scum from the top

I’m using a jam funnel but as long as you go slowly with the kitchen ladle (no spills on the rim of the jar etc), you should be okay. Please note that the jam jars, lids, ladle and funnel have all just come out of the dishwasher, so they are completely sterilised. This said, do be careful not to touch anywhere other than the outside of the jars and lids. Leave the jam several millimetres below the top of the jar and screw on the lid tightly. You may want to use a tea towel as the jar will be hot. Now place the jam jars in the biggest pan you possess and cover with water. Boil the jars for twenty minutes to finalise the sterilisation. I think that Nigella doesn’t do this, rather she will just tip the hot jam jars upside down. This kills any potential bacteria below the lid. I opt for the traditional method however. If you don’t have a pan big enough, do it Nigella’s way.

Hey presto you have a real treat ahead. The children will love it, but you might just want to keep it for the grownups, mixed with a small splash of water and drizzled over Greek yoghurt or ice cream.

Got to go as Thor is upstairs shouting rather loudly when he should be having his nap. Just me this afternoon as Sindy our nanny is off. I will update you as and when!

Friends Coming for Dinner

And guess what? Yes, we’re having Thai food. All made yesterday leaving me completely free today. Even the rice cooked and just waiting to be reheated in the microwave. Last time these particular friends came over, we feasted on several Indian dishes, but this time I opted to go for Thai food. Starting with Tom Yum noodles with spring onion and a shrimp and for mains, 3 hour cooked Beef Massaman, Thai red curry with chicken thigh, a yellow curry with chicken, shrimp and potatoes, accompanied with lashings of basmati rice. To be honest, I wouldn’t cook with any other rice, even with Thai food, basmati rules supreme. All the curry pastes made from scratch of course. Well I made all of that yesterday and you know what! Like any dish with spice, it’s best enjoyed the following day! The flavours all fuse together and although all of the spices are all cooked out when cooked, there’s just something about them continuing to permeate for twenty four hours. Okay, okay, today! Quiet house after the morning school runs on a Thursday, just me and the crazy dogs. They are constant, like two groupies just staring up, expecting something, usually a doggy treat. But like all family pets, I love them and wouldn’t have things any other way. I made five jars of one of my yummy combo jams. Have I mentioned the flavour combos before? Maybe, but I will reiterate, today’s combo was ‘Kiwi and Lime’. Totally amazing on hot toast, dripping with butter. I will list ‘Dadda’s Jams’ combos below:

Rasmelon Berry

Peach Peary

Black Grapple

Ginger & Pumpkin

Strawlime Berry

Blue Cherry Berry

Just a few amazing combos alongside the usual classic flavours, but like pumpkin, you can ‘Jam’ with pretty much any fruit (or squash). So thinking to tomorrow, I have two punnets of dark Victoria plums and a kilo of sugar. Lesson one in jam making is make an easy one. So dishwash those spare jam jars in preparation and lets take tomorrow’s lesson in the AM. All for now, nite nite.

A Trip to the Vets

Yesterday saw the daft canine duo that is Remus and Gracie visit the Vets for their annual vaccination booster and this years kennel cough jab. They were weighed, Remus a very healthy twenty two kilos and our Grace came in at twenty seven! Girl dogs are by in large fifteen percent smaller than their male counterparts! So she is a little overweight, but this is due to her general relaxed approach to things. She only ever runs with speed when a squirrel or two are spotted at the bottom of the garden. She is always on Remus’s tail. On the other hand Remus is a fine standing dog. He is a real looker! Did I say that his father was a best of breed at crufts? Anyhow, he burns off his calories being so hyper all of the time. The Vet almost fainted when she realised that he was ten years old. She thought him a sprightly pup of eighteen months or younger. We had to laugh. Another entry about today later…