Life, photos but not the universe

Frozen and rolled up with marmite

It’s a frozen waste here.  Last night there was moonlight shining on the snowy fields.   The roads have been fairly clear till now but this morning the drive is icy and I haven’t seen any cars go past.  And it’s rubbish collecting day!  I suspect we won’t see them – we didn’t get any post from Friday till yesterday and then we got a big bundle.  I suppose they didn’t do the wilder bits of their rounds, though our road isn’t particularly wild.  A lot of the traffic from Reading comes through as they can avoid the choke points of Thatcham and Newbury on the A4 and they’ve beaten the snow off the road with their big 4×4 tyres and their huge exhausts.

Barney’s truck is a four wheel drive which is entirely appropriate for driving in and out of muddy fields and up rutted tracks to thatched cottages in obscure villages on the Downs.  So you’d think he’d be out and about on the snowy roads but in fact the truck is very light which is good on mud but not at all good on ice and snow.   We took my car down for an MOT yesterday (it passed! Yay!) and the mechanic jokingly said “Oh he’ll be alright with his great big 4×4” as Barney skidded gently into place next to my car.

Well I shall have to go out – it’s GB minding day tomorrow and we’ll need some food for Barney to cook.  He hasn’t been to work since it started snowing – more joking from the mechanic but there really isn’t a lot you can do to a snow-covered, frozen roof.  Thatch is the best insulator.  The snow and ice stay up there for days after all the tiled roofs are melting.  Anyway since he can’t go to work he wants to do lots of cooking instead.  No complaints from me!

The other day when I went out on foot, I kept hearing heavy machinery somewhere along the road, just out of sight and saw coloured lights flashing through the bare trees and thought hopefully, gritting?  Salting even?  Wow!  How impressive.


But no.  It was the hedge trimmer.  Well certainly we don’t want the hedges overgrowing the roads as well as the ice and snow and no post or rubbish vans.


Moving right along, I don’t mind a sensible amount of leftover but I get fed up with 3/8ths of a portion or 2/5ths of a pie – they’re never going to be the right amount)  So some time ago I invented the following .*

How to make a nice snack which uses up leftover pastry and will get eaten almost immediately thus leaving no leftovers (except most of the pie as we’ll be too full to manage our carefully calculated portions)

Pre-heat the oven to about 190 ish – 200 ish, approximately.  (Not 220 like it says on the packet though because I have a note on my board which says 220 is too hot for puff pastry.  Who am I to argue with me?)

Make a very small chicken pie using a new packet of ready rolled puff pastry (my pastry is rubbish) and all the left over roast chicken except enough for His sandwiches.  Oh and the left over gravy.  (And some mushrooms quickly fried with a couple of rather old bits of smoked bacon)  Put it in a cool place for a while – start blogging before you forget what you’ve decided to do next.

Roll out the remaining pastry quite thin (probably – I haven’t put them in the oven yet and I’m not sure how thin I needed to make them) in a rectangle which will allow it to be rolled up along it’s long edge about four or five times.

Spread a very thin layer of marmite all over it.  (Yes that’s a joke. )  Ok, dab bits of marmite here and there and then try and spread them a bit without ripping the pastry to bits.

Have another glass of wine.  Oh and feed the cat!  She may have had lots of bits of chicken skin half an hour ago but that was just an appetiser.

Sprinkle the left over grated cheddar (or other leftover cheese) all over it.  There won’t be enough so grate a bit more straight on top of the pastry.  Oh, just lightly covered all over.

Roll the pastry along the long edge, five or six times.  Well, until it’s all rolled up.

Slice the roll of pastry into little rounds about 3/4 of an inch thick.

Put them, cut sides down, on a baking tray which has been lightly floured (or greased – I can’t remember which it should be but no doubt I’ll find out when they’re done).

Use the left over milk from brushing the top of the pie to brush the tops of the pastry rolls.  (Actually that’s really difficult.  I don’t think I can ever have done it before.  Don’t bother).

Put them in the oven for 10 minutes or so.  (I’m not sure about that but they’re done when they’re golden brown and puffed up and crispy-ish.  Getting on for 13 minutes now**).

Obviously they’e best when just out of the oven (cooling on a wire tray) and much too hot to eat but I think they just about stay edible till the next day.

Oh enough food.  More snow.

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*I’m fairly sure I did invent it – however it’s such an obvious use of the main ingredients that I can’t believe several thousand other people haven’t invented it too?  You?

**Um.  maybe 12 minutes at 200C?  I did 13 minutes at 190C and I think it was a little bit slow.  They’re nice even at the experimental stage but obviously what you want is little puffy golden rounds oozing with cheese and delicately blackened with hot marmite.  

January 24, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

‘Sno water

The house looks like battlefield and the trail of destruction and disorder leads to the door of the music room wherein lies a tiny, sleeping person, freshly bathed and storied and “a little bit cold”  so swathed in several layers of blanket.  (I’ll have to go up later and removes some or she’ll be a stewed GB by the morning).  We are privileged, for the first time, to have fed and bedded her by ourselves and she was wonderfully helpful and accommodating.  She really is a nice little person.  Admittedly there was an excessive amount of discussion about her pizza toast (toast with tomato puree and toasted cheese – I recommend it, I had to pretend to share it and it’s very nice)  and we had to take turns discussing it with her but most of it got eaten.  And I’m afraid I didn’t know all the songs she likes to sing in the bath and I couldn’t get our TV to produce CBeebies at all (but that’s fine as it confirms my insistence that I can’t make TVs work).  There was a slightly unfortunate incident which involved Barney’s chair, not mine so I don’t mind about that – I had offered the potty several times but we got quite involved about the food discussions and there was forgetfulness (potty training is very recent and not completed yet).  So Mr and Mrs Middle have gone out to see Les Miserables at Newbury’s ridiculously capacious multiplex cinema and we are bathing in the warm, emotional glow emitted by the sleeping and apparently contented GB (well it is our first time and she might have suddenly decided that she wanted My Mummy or My Daddy).   It’s all exceedingly good.  And exhausting.  And now I’d better read my crib sheet and find out what I’ve forgotten (not the nappy – last week I forgot that when I put her down for her nap and the results were as might have been predicted – it’s a very recent thing this nappyless-ness when awake).  Oh and then I’d better clear up.  It’s quite amazing how much disorder a very small person can create in a couple of hours – I’d quite forgotten.

Actually I’d better go and have a listen.  Who knows, she might suddenly have realised that My Mummy and My Daddy (I so love that) are really not here and want to be comforted or something.  No.  All quiet on the upstairs front.

Oh and the water is off again (this has enhanced the battlefield effect and extended it into areas where the small person usually doesn’t go much).  I used to be quite blase about this happening every six months or so but recently it seems to be more frequent, March, June and December last year and twice already this year.  What sort of pump was it they put in a few months ago I wonder.  Not a good one obviously.  Up until now, it hasn’t taken long to get it working again but you can’t help wondering how quick and easy it will be to fix it in this weather!  the man in charge of keeping it in order, fortunately (for us) depends on it for his own water so not only does he know at once when it breaks down, he also has a vested interest in getting it going again.  But it is becoming a bit of a pain.  On the other hand, I hesitate to ring the poor man at this time of night in the snow and ask what’s happening.  Well we’ll see.


Yay!  The water’s back.  We’ve flushed the toilets and got the dishwasher going (of course the water stopped just after we’d eaten last night but before we’d washed up) and now I’m going to have a celebratory cup of coffee.  And the snow is still falling and the sun is, well, not exactly shining, more sort of glowing.  This morning I suddenly thought, of course, there’s loads of water just outside, in big heaps.  We could always use that to flush the toilets.  Barney pointed out that you’d need a lot of buckets of snow to get one of water.  Anyway, I’m quite glad that my plan, which involved two buckets, a shovel and a hairdryer, became unnecessary.

What’s really annoying is that though the roads are reasonably clear, all the places where I might park to stop and take photos, are thickly covered and almost certainly conceal pits and furrows of deep mud and car bottom breaking potholes – not to mention ice on which to get stuck.

But I can’t resist.  I’ve gone out and all the parking places looked highly suspicious (ice, mud, the steep banks on the edge of the River Pang, little snowy roads leading up steep hills to places where there will be no turning round – bother!) so I settled on Yattendon Church and parked in the middle of the village.  I found a footpath which I hadn’t explored before so that was good.  And then I returned to the car and found that it didn’t at all want to back out of its space.  Some poking around the wheels with my walking stick and the offer of help from a passing couple fixed that and I didn’t even need a push.

So here be snow.





(I did consider following Rog’s example but there’s too much traffic around here!  And the iphone was buried under three layers of wool and waterproof – very useful if I’d really got stuck.)

Oops!  I’d better go to bed – car wants an MOT tomorrow and they might need it early.  Soft white blankets come to mind.  Sleep well.

January 21, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 2 Comments