Thursday, 15 February 2018


Good Morning to you,

If I were to ask you, to think of one daily or weekly domestic task, which your grandmother did, but which is not relevant today.

What would your answer be?

For instance, I asked George this same question and he said, 'Collecting coal from the coal house'. Something his grandfather did on a daily basis during the winter time, but a job George hasn't done since we first married.... yes, we did have a coal house and yes, that is how long it has been since we had an open fire. 

George then mentioned that with the introduction of casual shoes, the polishing of shoes had changed. That is to say, the products we use are different nowadays.... which led me to thinking about my Gramps. 

I remember every time we visited Gramps and Ivy, one of Gramp's evening rituals, would be to collect everyone's shoes, even my mother and father's. The shoes would be carried into the back parlour, where newspaper would be laid out on the floor. His brushes and shoe polish would be lined up ready and waiting to perform their work.  One brush would be used to put the polish onto the shoes and the second brush would be used to remove the polish from the shoes.  The final job would be to use his duster to buff up the shine on the shoes.  Now I am not saying that my father did not shine our shoes, but I don't remember shiny shoes like the ones Gramps returned to us each morning. I remember mine were red and how they shined when Gramps had worked his magic.

So back to the question. My answer would be, darning holes in socks.

I cannot remember the last time I darned a hole in a sock. In actual fact, it was so long ago that I cannot even pinpoint the exact time.

I remember being taught, firstly by Ivy, who always darned Gramp's socks. She had a basket which seemed to be overflowing with socks which needed darning.  With hindsight they were probably kept in pairs, so she knew which socks went together. I am sure I have a 1940s pattern tucked away somewhere showing how to knit the socks Gramps wore. Ivy knitted socks because Gramps needed hard wearing socks for work.

I know there are many women who still knit socks, and I can think of one lady in particular, but on the whole, I think it is fair to say, nowadays socks are knitted  for pleasure and not necessity. 

It was also one of the things we were taught to do at school during Domestic Science classes.  Along with how to starch a tablecloth and many other domestic duties, which are no longer relevant to today's way of living.

The reason I ask the question, and the reason for my answer is, I discovered my Grandmother Ivy's darning mushroom in one of my unpacked boxes. The darning mushroom is wooden and is quite lovely. The handle has worn smooth due to so much use.

.... so why do I keep these little treasures which are of no use today?

Simply to keep Ivy's memory alive. 

Time slips by, and with each passing year, I have discovered the memories have started to gently fade. I want to stop this happening, I want to hold on to the memories, as tightly as Ivy held my hand, when I was a little girl.  It is many years since Ivy passed away, but I want her memory to burn brightly in my mind. By keeping items which she used, I know her memory will not fade and she will continue to remain in my heart.

.... and someone else who is in my heart, is my lovely daughter Natasha.

.... and she has made a request,

and asked me if I would share my recipe for Sweet Potato Shepherds Pie here on Ivy, Phyllis and Me!

Which of course I am thrilled to do.

I tend to be the type of cook, who, if I do not have the exact ingredients for a recipe, I will look in my store cupboard and see what I can use as an alternative. 

I created this recipe when the Christmas festivities were over.  It was just before New Year's Eve when I had intended to make my Lentil Shepherd's Pie for supper, but I had ran out of a few of the ingredients. I checked to see what vegetables I had to replace the carrot and mushrooms and found an aubergine and red sweet pepper, so I adapted the recipe. 

.... and it was such a hit with everyone, that Natasha wants to replicate the recipe.

So it's on with the pinnie and time to organise the ingredients.



500g or 1 large sweet potato ~ peeled and cut into equal chunks
500g white potatoes ~ peeled and cut into equal chunks
a knob of butter


1 large aubergine ~ topped and tailed then cubed
3 tablespoons of olive oil
2 red onions ~ finely chopped
1 large red sweet pepper, deseeded, cut into cubes
2 cloves of garlic, crushed with salt
60 ml red wine (optional)
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
1 tablespoon of dried oregano
1 400g tin of tomatoes ~ chopped
1 teaspoon of brown sugar
1/2 pint vegetable stock
1 level teaspoon of salt
400g tin of green lentils

Pre-heat the oven to 180C or 160C Fan oven



  Place the sweet potato and potato into a pan of boiling, salted water and cook until tender.

   When tender, strain the water and mash the potato with a knob of butter.

   Replace the lid on the saucepan and set aside until needed.


   Place 1 tablespoon of  olive oil into a wide pan and add the onions.

   Over a moderate heat, cook until the onions are golden brown.

   Whilst the onions are cooking, place 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a separate pan and add the aubergines. Cook until they are starting to brown.

  Add the peppers to the pan and cook for 10 minutes.  You will find the aubergines will continue to brown.

 Add the peppers and aubergines to the cooked onions and stir.

   Add the crushed garlic and cook for a minute.

   Add the oregano, tomato paste to the pan and stir for a further minute.

   Add the wine and turn up the heat to allow the alcohol to evaporate. This will take a couple of minutes.

   Reduce the heat to medium and add the chopped tomatoes. Stir the ingredients together.

   Add the brown sugar to the pan and stir.

  Add the vegetable stock and simmer for 10 minutes. If you find the mixture is becoming too thick, add a cup of water to loosen the mixture.

  Drain the tin of green lentils and rinse under cold running water.

   Add to the pan and simmer for a further 10 minutes.  Again you might find the liquid has reduced too much.  If needs be, add a little more water, but not too much as you do not want the mixture to be too loose.  You want the mashed potato to sit perfectly on top of the vegetables.

   Taste and season as necessary.  I find there is enough salt added when crushing the garlic with salt.

   Place the lentil mixture into a relatively deep pie dish, or as I have done, divide the mixture to make 2 individual portions and 4 larger portions.

  Place the mashed sweet potato/white potato on top.  I find spooning the potato around the edges first, then filling in the centre guarantees that I have an even spread of potato.

  Place in the pre-heated over for 45 minutes until the topping is nice and crispy.

Then all there is left to do,

This is a really healthy supper and you will be surprised to learn, very filling.

I wanted to mention not to worry about the red wine, if you have it, use it, if not, that is fine. Although I do find the red wine adds a nice depth of flavour to the shepherd's pie.

If you prefer to use dried green or brown lentils, then you will need about 40 minutes of cooking time.  When I use dried lentils I put them in a pan to cook first, then I start to peel the potatoes.

I always have tinned lentils in my store cupboard.  I appreciate they are more expensive, but often you can find them on offer and they are perfect for those times when you really need to get a meal on the table quickly.

.... and Natasha.... I hope you enjoyed this Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie.

Take care and I will catch up with you next Thursday.

As Always,

Thursday, 8 February 2018


Good Morning to you,

When it comes to food, I tend not to slot into one food genre, I have a tendency to enjoy a range of foods.  My mood tends to dictate what I eat.

But I think as I have become older, I am leaning more towards vegetarian food,  I often 'dip my toe' into vegetarian and vegan recipes, although as yet, I am not fully committed.

Nowadays there are so many vegetarian recipes to tantalize our taste buds that we can make a meal which is full of flavour and hardly notice that meat is missing from the plate.

I feel I am fortunate, to live in a time, when there are  so many herbs and spices readily available to me. I can add hot, spicy, sweet or sour to flavour my food.  If I do not have the time to make a stock, there are a range of ready made stocks lining the supermarket shelves.... I admit not all are of the same quality, as many contain a lot of sodium, but there are still good quality stocks available to make my life easier.

.... but how did my Grandmother Ivy flavour her food, especially soups. Soups need a depth of flavour which comes from a good stock.  How did she make a good stock. I don't believe, for an instant, she would make stock using whole vegetables. It would have been seen as far too wasteful. 

To find out I thought I would take a look at my recently acquired 1935 Round the Clock Cookery book.  I wondered, if firstly, there was a recipe for stock, which of course there was and secondly if there was such a thing as a  vegetarian recipe included in the book.

To be honest, I didn't think there would be, because life was different back then. I remember when I was a child, we could not pick and choose what we ate, it was a case of eat what was put on the plate.

.... and I was surprised to learn that yes, there was a recipe.... only one. The recipe was for a Vegetarian Soup, made with cauliflower, celery, carrot, onion, potato, turnip, tomatoes and stock. Which we know today as simply vegetable soup.

There was another recipe for Cabbage soup, but this was not classed as Vegetarian. Milk was included in the recipe, but I think I am right in saying that vegetarians do drink milk. I wondered if the vegetarian soup made with cauliflower, was called vegetarian, simply because it just contained vegetables. Whereas the cabbage soup included milk so was not known as a vegetarian soup.

I  then went on to read about how housewives in the 1930s made their stock. 

.... and I was right, the stock was not made with fresh whole vegetables.  The stock was made by using the scraps from peeled vegetables.

The cookery book writes,

'A stockpot is a most useful utensil.  It is usually made of tinned copper or cast iron.  All vegetable scraps put into the stockpot, should be  'looked over' carefully to make sure they are clean and free from taint.

The stockpot should be cleared everyday and fresh scraps must never be added to old stock'.

I have decided that I am going back in time and I am going to read all my 1930s and 1940s cookery books to rediscover recipes.  

At the moment, electricity has gone up, gas has gone up, I heard today that Council tax was going to be increased and food has certainly spiked in price. I feel it is the time to look at old recipes, maybe not to cook exactly as Ivy did, but to see if I can learn more about 'making more out of less'.... gosh that's a good title.

The first thing I am going to do is make the stock with vegetable peelings.  It will be interesting to compare.  I will let you know if it is successful.

.... but for today, we are staying with the vegetarian theme as we are going to make,

sweet potato burgers.  This is a recipe I adapted from the May 2017 Tesco magazine.  The original recipe called for carrots and less eggs, but I love sweet potato and can eat it any time, so I swapped the carrots for sweet potato.... and I am very happy with the end result.

So it's on with the pinnie and time to organise my ingredients.


2 red onions, finely chopped
2 level tablespoons of olive oil
1 level tablespoon of ground cumin
2 cloves of garlic ~ grated
1 x 390g tin of Puy lentils ~ drained
1 large sweet potato ~ grated
2 slices of bread ~ blitzed to make bread crumbs
2 large eggs ~ whisked
200g Feta cheese ~ crumbled


2 baking trays lined with parchment paper
10cm x 5cm cooking rings

Pre-heat the oven 220C/200 Fan

MAKES: 8 good sized sweet potato burgers


1. Finely chop the red onions (I find a food processor does the job perfectly).

2. Place the olive oil into a wide pan.

3. Add the onions and cook until soft and translucent.

4. Add the cumin to the pan and cook for a minute, stirring to incorporate the cumin with the onions.

5. Add the garlic and again stir for a minute.

6. Add the drained lentils to the pan and cook for 3 - 4 minutes.

7. Remove the pan from the heat and place the contents into a large heatproof bowl.

8. Add the grated sweet potato and breadcrumbs and mix the ingredients together.

9. Add the whisked eggs and mix.

10.  Add the crumbled Feta cheese and gently mix.  You don't want the Feta cheese to become too fine in texture.

11. Place the cooking rings on to the baking trays lined with baking parchment.

Divide the mixture between each cooking ring. 

Place the the lid on each cooking ring and gently press.  This will make the sweet potato burgers uniform in size which will allow the burgers to cook in the same time.

Remove the cooking rings and place the sweet potato burgers into the oven for 20-25 minutes.  You want the sweet potato burgers to be cooked, but you do not want the puy lentils to be crispy.

When cooked, I tend to leave the sweet potato burgers to cool for about 3 minutes, this way the burger does not break apart.

Then all there is left to do is,

add some coleslaw and a few tomatoes,


Please do not worry if you do not have moulds, this is not a problem, because the sweet potato burgers can easily be moulded by hand.  

Also I use this recipe to form little sweet potato kofta which I place into warmed pitta bread with lettuce, tomato and cucumber.... and in the Cypriot way, add a little tzatziki. 

If you would like to know how to make tzatziki then I have added the recipe to this week's featured post.

I feel sure you will enjoy making these sweet potato burgers, as they are perfect for the days, when you want something tasty, but meat free.

.... and my taste tester, George, loved them.  I am hoping to replace his Saturday burgers with these sweet potato burgers..... I think I might just manage to convert my husband.

Take care and I will catch up with you next Thursday.

As Always,

Thursday, 1 February 2018


Good Morning to you,

The first day of February has arrived and the month of January, is now behind us.

.... and I have decided, I am not going to utter those words. You know, the ones you are thinking of right now, after reading the last sentence.

.... but on second thoughts, I might as well get it over and done with, because I just know, at some point during the day, the words are going to tumble from my mouth.

So here goes.

Where on earth did January go? 

There, I've said it, I have got it out of my system and yes, I feel much better now. 

.... but seriously, where did it go.  I cannot believe that February has arrived. Now I could continue with this train of thought, and talk about living in the moment, taking time to enjoy life, but I feel that is a whole other conversation. I think, for now,  I need to let this go and move on to other things.

How about shopping?

That sounds good to me.

.... and what have I been placing in my shopping basket during the month of January?

There is no list, because to be honest, I tend not to visit the shops during January, because after Christmas, there is nothing which I really need.

.... but I have been out and about, mainly visiting our local garden centre oh yes and charity shops.... well that is where the bargains are to be had at this time of year.

It always amazes me, the treasures which can be found, after Christmas in charity shops.  I'm not sure why.  Maybe people have a good clear out  of their old possessions, to make way for their new Christmas gifts. As they say, out with the old and in with the new.

.... and in with the new certainly applies to these beautiful Alstroemeria, which I bought at my local supermarket. Flowers always put a smile on my face and the added bonus is, they will stay in flower for 2 maybe 3 weeks. 

I was also seduced by these little daffodils.  They were planted in yellow plastic pots, which were not very pleasing to the eye, so on my arrival home,  I searched my cupboards to see what I could find. I discovered some glass candle holders which I had saved and also these little mercury glass candle holders.  Oh yes and a silver rose bowl, which I thought would look lovely planted with yellow daffodils.

.... and look how they have grown.  I am going to enjoy them indoors and then once they have finished flowering I am going to plant them in the garden, where they will bring me pleasure once again.

Oh and I also bought some more wool.  I love this colour and it works beautifully with my cushions.  I have two more frills to finish and then I will drape the throw over my sofa.

I took this photograph this morning, I just had to show you how the daffodils had grown . They really are a ray of sunshine on a grey day.

.... and my most exciting purchase, was these 4 beautiful 'Real Old Willow' teacups. Admittedly they were sold minus their saucers, but I don't mind, because it will give me something to look for when I am next out and about. The handles are a lovely shape and the cup is beautiful.

.... and take a peek inside the teacup... isn't the design just perfect.

Talking of beautiful, isn't this Zephirine Drouhin rose just gorgeous. Buying plants for my garden is possibly one of my favourite pastimes, along with gardening itself.  I am waiting for the delivery of some bare rooted roses, so that I can plant them this month.

When it comes to roses, my favourite grower is David Austin.  Each rose I have bought from his nursery has never failed to impress. 

 .... and when the word exquisite, which is a word I love, is used in the description, well this Queen of Sweden rose is certainly going to grace my garden.

.... and this climbing Rose, Graham Thomas with its beautiful yellow colour will look magnificent climbing up my pergola. I am looking forward to summer time when I will be able to show you these beautiful roses, flowering in my garden.

My final purchase was,

The Cornish Coast Murder by John Bude.  Initially I picked it up because I liked the front cover and then I noticed it said 'British Library Crime Classics'.  I opened up the book and discovered it was originally published in 1935. The Cornish Coast Murder was the debut crime novel of Ernest Carpenter Elmore.  Ernest used the pseudonym John Bude for writing his crime novels. Maybe he thought his own name was a little long winded.  Personally I thought it was a lovely name.... not a name you hear every day.

When I picked the book from the shelf, I noticed that it had not been read, its condition was pristine. Maybe the original owner, mistook the title, thinking it would be too graphic.  Whatever the reason, their loss, was certainly my gain. 

I do enjoy a good crime novel, but I am not so keen on today's crime novels, as I find they are too descriptive. If I have to skip pages, then there is no point in reading the book.  This is the perfect book for me,  after all I am a huge fan of Miss Marple's.  I started reading this book in the evening and couldn't put it down, suffice it to say, the book was finished in 2 days. 

I was quite disappointed when I finished reading the book, for no other reason than, it was a thoroughly good read.  I often feel that way when I finish a good book, as I want it to continue, I don't want the story to end, although end it must.

I feel sure, after reading The Cornish Coast Murder, I will be looking for more John Bude novels.  I will let you know if I find anymore.

I am now going to look at my seed catalogues as a few dropped through the letterbox this week. Browsing through seed catalogues and choosing seeds for our garden is always a lovely way to spend an evening. 

Take care and I will catch up with you next Thursday.

As Always.

Thursday, 25 January 2018


Good Morning to you,

The year before last, a dear friend gifted George and I, a wonderful array of jams, marmalade and chutney. They have long since been eaten and enjoyed. The marmalade was spread on thick slices of toast, the jams used inside a Swiss Roll and a Victoria Sponge and the chutney perked up many a ham sandwich. All that remained of the gift was a gorgeous little basket, which I could not bear to throw away.... well you know how I do love to hold on to things.... just in case.

The basket had been waiting patiently to be brought back into the light for almost 14 months and that day finally arrived, when yesterday, George and I decided to visit our local garden centre.  We wanted to buy some compost and bark for another project we were doing and quite honestly, that is all we wanted to buy.

.... but you know what it is like, when you are faced with row upon row of gorgeous spring flowers.  The temptation rises and before you know it, the 'flower fairy' has heard your call and added a few pots of beautiful spring flowers into the trolley.  You hardly notice it happening, as it all occurs during a moments breath.

When you see what I bought, you will understand why the 'flower fairy' heeded my call. 

Aren't these Primula Belarina just perfect. Yes the bright, gaudy versions are fine, actually these are the colours which George prefers,  but I much prefer the delicate pale yellow colour. Can you see why I was tempted?

The plants had been chosen,

and the little basket, which finally saw the light of day once again, was ready and waiting. I checked the depth of the basket and it was perfect.

The first thing I needed to do, was to place a layer of plastic inside the basket.  Once arranged, I held it in place with pegs. This was to prevent the weight of the soil dragging the plastic downwards, allowing water to seep through the basket.  Ordinarily I would use clear plastic, but when I took my first photograph, the clear plastic could hardly be seen, so I changed it for this more visible, white plastic. I then placed one handle of the basket at 10 o'clock and the other at 2 o'clock to allow easy access to the basket. I didn't want to lay the handles flat, because when pulled back into their original position, they might have broken some of the primula leaves.

I then mixed 2 parts multi purpose compost with 1 part of small bark chippings.  I then mixed the two together. How brilliant was it, that this mix, was bought for another project, but there was ample remaining, for this little project.

I placed a third of the compost and bark mixture into the bottom of the basket.  I would suggest that you check the sizes of your pots, as you might need to add more or less soil than I did.  

I carefully removed the plants from their plastic containers and checked the roots.  As you can see, mine were root bound, so my lovely assistant, George, teased the roots, whilst I took the photograph.

Then it was time for the exciting part, I began, by placing the first primula into the centre of the basket and then I added the other two plants either side.  I did find it was a tight squeeze for the final plant, so I had to coax the plant into position.

I then filled the spaces around the plants with soil, gently firming as I went along.

As I had a good supply of bark, I sprinkled some over the soil, firstly as decoration and secondly to help keep the moisture in the soil.

Finally I cut away the excess plastic and using an old screwdriver (yes I did ask George) gently tucked in any overlapping plastic so that it was hidden from view.

The plants were then watered, with just a small amount of water. The handles were brought upright and I placed the basket near a window to enjoy the natural light.

As far as watering is concerned, I use a small watering can and water sparingly.  I test the soil with my finger tip and if it is dry, then I will water.  As there are no drainage holes it is essential that the plants are not over watered, as plants do not like their roots sitting in water.

Normally, I would buy plants which are in bud, but I thought you would enjoy a pretty flower rather than a bud and to be honest, I am really enjoying them as well, as they look lovely in the conservatory.  When they have finished flowering and the warmer spring weather arrives, I will plant them in the garden and next year they will reward me with more flowers. 

What do you think?  Was it worth saving the basket? I wonder are you the same as me, do you save things.... just in case?  

I love the basket of primula and I am now going to send a photograph to our friend to show him what became of the basket. I think he will be surprised at  how long I kept the basket.

Before I leave you, I have to apologise, because it seems the recipe for the Olive Oil cake, which I posted on my recipe page, has not materialised.  When I wrote the recipe last week, I pressed the publish button, and I thought that was it, but something has obviously gone wrong.  I promise to investigate and if I cannot find the answer to the problem, I have decided I will add the recipe to the original blog post.

Ooooh technology.

Take care and I will catch up with you next Thursday.

As Always,

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...