Random Jottings Of Gildersleeve

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Location: United Kingdom

Perhaps you'll learn more about me as you read my blog. For anyone who translates my blog using the translator facility, don't forget if you wish to read the comments in your own language to click on the title of the post down the left hand side otherwise they will remain in english. Also I assume that the translation is accurate but I don't know, so please allow for errors.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Latest News On Energy Saving Light Bulbs...

Now, everyone stop!

A programme on BBC Radio 4 last night aimed at those with sight problems talked with people who fear the use of the new bulbs and they talked to someone who represents people with eyesight problems and someone from the big manufacturer Osram and there was an admission that the new bulbs are not as they should be as yet.

However, an alternative was mentioned...Halogen. It appears that these will be more readily available, these lamps will be brighter, they will improve so that they fit more sockets. They will still be energy efficient(not as much as the other kind)

Also, halogen bulbs will give full colour spectrum and you will have light as soon as you switch them on rather than waiting for them to come on gradually...they can be used in dimmer switches too.

The popular energy bulbs being pushed offer a defused fluorescent light and are more harmful to the environment when you have to throw them out as they have mercury as an ingredient and you are supposed to take them to a recycling point and if they break in the home they are a health hazard which again does not seem a problem with halogen. It can be argued that the hazard is small and not as bad as some newspaper articles have suggested.

Considering the campaigns about health issues and how we should eat and exercise with adverts on tv or in the newspapers and leaflets being produced with information through our letterboxes they should probably done a similar promotion over these bulbs telling the positive and negatives about them and mentioning the alternatives. If only dispel the myths.

Why has the government, the trade and EU not told the public this more than they have...I have been purchasing some of the new energy saving bulbs but I will be looking into this further. Even if it means the bulbs I have purchased already are never used.

For now prices are a little more expensive(but it is said this will reduce as they become more popular but without a big publicity campaign to promote halogen this could take time)It worries charities that people who need the halogen bulbs more may be on benefit and to replace all the bulbs in the home could find the extra expense difficult. I have no idea how they rate in comparison regarding the claim that energy efficient light bulbs last longer than traditional bulbs so am unsure if halogen bulbs last longer. But they do seem to offer an energy saving of approx 35%.

So look for halogen instead as an alternative. I must add as an after thought another alternative that was mentioned and I have just remembered was LED lights.

Update:Take a look at this.

Great bright hope to end battle of the light bulbs

The only problem is that sockets will definitely need changing and fancy lights won't look good but if you just want a decent light this could be the answer. The story may have to be taken like many other technology one's with caution. Having heard the scientist interviewed on the radio at luchtime it seems this is one technology story that will fly...and they could be in production and they could be available within 2-5 years as long as people can hang on that long and they have not changed their light fittings by then. Perhaps the should've delayed the introduction of the new energy saving bulbs awhile longer. He also added that they could make them to offer similar light as daylight so colours will be natural.

Parallel research is also being carried out into how GaN lights could mimic sunlight to help 3m people in the UK with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Light work

There are many articles on this story(often duplicating text)but hopefully the last link is a slightly different take looking more at the material being used and how these lights may have other benefits healthwise.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

I Wouldn't Make A Habit Of It But...

I have found that if I have a cocktail late in the evening...I have a lovely sleep when I go to bed so maybe there is something about having what is often called a "night cap!" Had I not been interrupted I had already managed to sleep for about 4 hours.

I tried a cocktail called a Top Banana. The amounts I give you fills a Hi- Ball Glass and the ingredients I am about to mention are considered to be one of the lowest regarding alcohol content and one considered worth trying if you are a novice at making cocktails.

1 Shot of Vodka
1 Shot of Peach Schnapps
2 Shots of Milk
A medium sized Banana
Some Ice

Blend for 10 seconds at low speed and then 10-30 seconds at hi speed and serve up...

I found it gave a warm after feeling in the throat and chest, you may find that you like it better after the initial first taste. I did...and would consider having it again...Mum tried it and wasn't keen so I gave her a banana milk shake with no alcohol :-) She liked that! And really that what Top Banana is...a milk shake with added booze...


It may not seem like a big deal but...I made my very first soup today...

Now I probably can do much better but it tasted pretty good the only thing I would like to do is cut down on the salt content regarding the stock I have to add to the liquid. I am told that there is a stock available with a lower salt content which I looked for a couple of days ago without success but I have not given up.

So the other day I popped into the ASDA supermarket in a neighbouring town as I came out of the hospital after seeing my consultant. The range price wise and variety of fruit and vegetables beats the supermarket on my own town and I'll certainly pop in again but if I travel there by bus/taxi it adds to the cost and there is only so much I can carry home using these modes of transport. I may have to consider ordering online as this store now delivers locally.

Anyhow I purchased sliced leeks, diced broccoli florets, carrot, swedes, parsnips and potato, cauliflower florets all prepared to be used in a meal or as I did put into my soup. I softened them by frying lightly in butter(I used Clover)and then added those into the stock I had made and was simmering on the stove(I used a Knorr vegetable stock cube)in approx 400ml of water and then simmered the veg in the water for approx 10 minutes.

I then put the mixture in the blender and allowed some of the veg to remain slightly chunky but the more I liquidised the soup the thicker it became so if you prefer it that way just keep the blender going.

It was very easy to do and I was very pleased with my first attempt. But I will continue to learn.

Some great recipes are available on the following link...

Cooks For Cooks

What A Letter Can Do...

I live in a reasonably nice area of my town. Residents usually only leave in a wooden box so most of us have known each other for years. But in recent times we have had some problems with people who walk their dogs...only a few who refuse to pick up after their pet and usually walk them very late at night or early in the morning. If you are not watching because many people are working they are not seen committing the offence. Lately, without going in graphic detail it has been left by a large dog/dogs.

Its been difficult but I have been out there swilling it away with hot water and disinfectant. So a few weeks ago in our local town's free sheet someone had complained that they and their grandchildren had managed to get it over their shoes and into a car. The letter mentiond my street and warned that the area was being watched and what fine they could expect(the letter ended name and address supplied)

The power of the written word...so far ever since...no further problems. A couple of days previously up on returning from a shopping trip to the local supermarket I mentioned this to a taxi driver bringing me home as between me going out and returning this had happened outside my home(maybe this was the incident mentioned in the letter)so that taxi driver probably thinks I was the one who wrote that letter...but it wasn't!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Catch Up...

My consultant will be missing for a couple of months(he broke his shoulder)during his holidays either skiing or cycling and had an operation yesterday. So I saw one of his team, things remain the same, he was easy to talk to, there was none of the usual attitude you hear when dealing with consultants...the treatment continues to work but he did let slip that though the treatment is needed to control the condition...they can actually cause problems so its a balancing act and he did mention that my condition can result in kidney failure at some point but that could be 5 years into the future or whenever, who knows(you kind of know that is possible but to be told is not what you really want to hear)It could be that it never happens.

The hint was that the steroids can actually be a problem. The medication is very strong and has known dangers. I have seen the word cancer amongst information on leaflets with some of the drugs.

But there is more to be positive about than being negative. At least things are quite stable.

So for now the fly in the ointment was that my blood pressure was up again so they've increased the dosage of tablets again. I have to have a blood test again in a fortnight, if I have not been called back sooner. I forgot with the mix up over Mum to have a test done before going to the hospital so the results would have been there waiting for him. I am waiting to see if a phone call or letter arrives to say things are not good again. If that doesn't happen it looks reasonably ok.
They like to control blood pressure.

I was told today that my weight continues to reduce so my choice of food seems to be doing something good for me. Though the way my body now wobbles I wonder where the weight has been reducing from? I was told again to avoid where possible salt or keep it to the minimum. I know that and try to see my diet remains salt free. Otherwise I carry on eating as I always have.
Speaking of which when I came out of the hospital I popped into a different supermarket nearby and bought some fresh fruit and veg and some alcohol for my cocktails not available in my town and it has saved me having to order it online. I could only buy a small amount of shopping as I do not have any room in the fridge/freezer to store it. In fact it was difficult to get what I purchased today into it!

I'm looking for an excuse to use the new alcohol I found today...The better brandy and whisky I have I will keep for cocktails, the slightly not so good I will use in tea and coffee etc...or when we have toothache.

However, I found two items so I do not have to buy them online(a banana and blackberry liqueur) and...here's the really luxurious of all, I purchased Baileys Irish Cream Whisky(one with caramel and the other with a hint of chocolate mint)not sure what I will be using them for as yet...bought them first, will think of a reason later...they do a coffee one but as you tend to add it to coffee anyhow or add coffee to it that seemed pointless...

Mum is back from her hospital appointment...an x-ray was taken and she was examined and...they are pleased with her progress...they don't want to see her any more unless she feels that she wants to see them for some reason. I maybe seemed like a bully but I had to force her to go yesterday, she was trying to cancel up to the last minute. I can understand why but by going she had good news and had things been bad she could be put right whereas if you leave something it may cause problems later. They say the pain should become less or disappear in time. So she should be able to take less or no pain killers in time.

They don't think it will improve but it should not get any worse so that is good news. She doesn't always catch what is said so when he said it would probably not get any better she said something like "That's good or that's nice!"

From memory(I saw the original X-Ray)and the new, the image looked exactly the same as when she was admitted into hospital in early December last year so that's suggests that is how it will stay.

She should be able to do all that she ever did in time, if she does what she is told and does not have any further accidents. But she will have to be careful and another fall could cause all kinds of problems. And she likes having someone around in case something happens. Especially outdoors as there are times she is a little unsure underfoot.

Of course you think of all the questions you should've asked after you've been. I've started to think though we don't want to wrap her up in cotton wool, how careful should I be if I give her a cuddle? How much support will she need regarding cushions when she sits in a chair? What kind of chairs/sofa's should we consider? Will sitting for long periods cause stiffness? All this will become known as time goes by, it is still early days. It's assumed this last fall caused the problem but it could be that it happened sooner and this last fall aggravated it. It may be that a couple of previous falls were not fully investigated and it's only as this last one hurt as much the injury was discovered or maybe it was made worse...we'll never know.

I am thinking of turning her bedroom into a bedsit so we live upstairs as the bathroom and toilet are also on the same floor so if she had a telephone installed, a television, a radio, chairs and a bed everything is sorted. It's often warmer upstairs because the central heating pipes are under the floorboards. If I have a foldaway table she can eat meals upstairs too and I can boil a kettle for drinks which I do already. We also make thermos flasks of tea and coffee so we can avoid always having to boil water when we want a drink. And I spend most of my time in my bedroom too with my radio, computers etc...so it's an ideal solution. It avoids her having to use the stairs.

On the other hand two minutes(if that from home)we were passing a road junction in a taxi(we were on the main road)and the area was clear and no obstructions and guess what! A car waiting to come onto the main road managed to take off and slam into the passenger side of the taxi. We did not seemingly feel any real jolt from being hit but you always worry days/weeks later you'll suffer whiplash or something.

We may/may not have to be witnesses or give a statement for the insurance claim... The last thing after getting a good report with Mum would be something like this to cause further problems. Hopefully, it hasn't.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Easily Pleased?

Had to do a little shopping...as it happens I managed to get some bargains and most of what I wanted...

A small roaster dish made by Pyrex worth £5 for £2.49

I found somehow I had forgotten that my Internet magazine came out last Thursday so I purchased it a week late...That's never happened before.

You know I have started my new interest of making alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails, I was walking past a charity shop and was thinking can I be bothered to see what books have come in...but I did and I found two good quality books, one originally was £10 and the other £13 but I paid £1.50 each of them and they were all about making and containing recipes for cocktails and punches. In hardback and fully illustrated.

Finally, for the first time I thought I'd buy an expensive Scottish malt whisky but the choice I was found just confused, The one I planned to buy even I thought to be too expensive, I thought I had purchased a decent brand(its aged and Scottish)and was a single malt but I have found out it is a blended type however it still looks like a good one. It's called Black Bottle so it still should make some good cocktails...

But all in all a good day...

Fruit Salad...

Well, unless I am told otherwise...I'm getting back into eating my daily allowance of fruit.

Once I would've baulked at paying up to £2.50 for a fresh fruit salad comprising of melon, mango, grapes, pineapple and orange(there is enough for two servings)and there have been times when I could not afford to buy it if I wished and it could happen again.

However, I though I don't think it's any cheaper doing what I suggest as I said in the previous post you are up against dates on food and if you don't manage to eat it, you are throwing away good quality food that is expensive.

I have purchased some fruit, some fresh, some canned, some frozen, some that is packaged more like fresh fruit as it is not in a can and because I have chosen wisely, where once opened it has to be used within 3 days of opening, these if put in a fridge can be used up to 7 days after opening...so it gives me time to play with and if all pots are open I can mix what I use to give variety and if I miss a day I will probably still use everything and have fruit across the week. And I have the option of eating it or making a smoothie or home made drink.

So I have pear, melon, banana, pineapple, mango, apple, blueberries, peaches, grapes, oranges, cherries, strawberries and blackberries so I should be able to make quite a few fruit salads of my own. Quite a selection.

And for the first time in ages I also have a various selection of yogurts I can use in a similar way or could mix with my fresh fruit.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Use By/Sell By/Best Before?

What's the difference?

I throw out very little food, most of what I buy is eaten or if its fruit, meat or grain the birds will benefit so most of the time, it is all used.

There has been a lot of interest of late in whether it is safe to eat food past the date on the product.

There are tales of people/groups salvaging items from the bins of supermarkets looking for food that has been thrown away, some shops give food to residential homes because its still high in quality but because of health and safety laws they are unable to sell it.

We've all seen those bargain shelves where food is moved to and sold at reduced prices because it has to be sold on the day. Though many shops are still quite tight on how much they reduce items by.

I think I have a blog entry somewhere involving a tv reporter who decided to eat food well past it's date to see if tasted ok and whether it would harm him and result in food poisoning. The conclusion was that most items can be eaten and it will be perfectly safe. And you will be too. Of course it's personal choice.

Our Government has had many campaigns to have us exercise more, eat well, cut down on waste(another campaign was launched only days ago)what none of these ideas tackles is that for some income is low and the cost of food(what is seen as the good stuff)can be expensive and allowing for families who put drinking and smoking or what has been called junk or fast food or entertainment, what you can spend on food may be affected by the cost of traveling to work, paying utility bills, rent, community charges and other bills that you have to pay, that you cannot get out of.

And now as the world has been hit by the economic downturn and more families are struggling on a much reduced income even though you need food to live, people will cut back. If they went back to eating what the population had to during the two World Wars when food was rationed and portions were smaller we probably would be healthier and fitter. Will that ever happen, who knows.

Some people have gone back to growing their own vegetables where possible. But with many gardens being smaller or removed altogether(and allotments suffering the same fate)to return to this will not be easy.

Anyhow on the back of this, radio stations in the last few days have been talking about how a new site is doing a roaring trade selling food and goods that are close to their sell by/best before dates. And the programmes talked to food experts regarding how safe food is. A lot of what's available is confectionery and in my town one shop is often selling sweets near or just past the date and they sail out the shop, it could be this is where they are getting their supply. The shop has big signs up making it clear that the products are near their expiry dates.

And its something you as a consumer have to decide if eating food like this is safe but overall experts say if it smells and looks ok, it will be. If you the product has to be cooked and you follow directions correctly harmful bacteria will be killed off.

It is also true and has been admitted that if a product says sell by/best before it will be fine and can be eaten without much worry that you'll be harmed. It seems the only food guidance that should be followed and not questioned(but I have done so myself)and all experts seem to agree is not to eat anything if the date is preceded by the words "Use By" And it's been mentioned for years how long food if canned correctly can last and remain in good condition. I knew it went back to Napoleonic times and this an interesting article. The article suggests that initially food was stored in glass jars and cans came in after British involvement and they took things further.

It's one thing to buy too much food but if you are trying to avoid un-necessary trips to the supermarket you have to try and imagine what you would like to eat and how much you need and sometimes I have no idea what I feel like eating until the day. And if the product has a date that will last ages isn't that why we have fridge/freezers? And wouldn't the lobbyists telling us to reduce our carbon footprint welcome fewer shopping trips?

So next time you look in the fridge/freezer and panic and start throwing items out because they are near or past the date on the product...perhaps we should think again.

Update:Following on from my talk of when food should be used by I came across the following approx a week later and though slanted a certain way by the newspaper the basic facts are here.

I think the idea though based on common sense to be a waste of time and money especially with all the tv and radio programmes we have devoted to cooking and how to use food and what to buy. We have had a well known cook launch a campaign to teach the population basic cooking involving a tv series, a book and some local venues being opened offering courses.

Some short commercials or leaflets/booklets issued probably would be as good(and less expensive)than having someone knock at the door and start to advise about food management.

I would not be rude if I was caught by one of these people at my door but I would tell them that I was not interested and I think I know as much as anyone about what is the nutritional value of food and what I can do with it.

'food champions'

Sunday, January 18, 2009

It's Been A Few Days...

I have become more interested in my cooking again and have a few recipes that I plan to try out in the coming days...this also assumes that all is well for Mum and myself as both of us have appointments at hospitals and have consultants to see. No one can second guess how these meetings will go(fingers crossed)we would hope all will be well or at least we continue as we are.

If I manage to make something really special I'll try and post a link to the recipe or put it on my blog.

I don't like talking of illness with so many people having their own problems but as I have been keeping a kind of diary of how things are I better continue to say how things are...

Mum is pretty strong but is a little depressed I would say because each day is similar(that is the case even when you are fit)but you have control over your life and you can in theory go wherever you wish.

But some of the confidence has gone and if/when she manages to get out, she will always prefer that I am around to help support her(though in truth)she probably keeps me steady too. I have to say that she is a wonderful patient and really doesn't bother anyone but she has to rest and then get up and do some walking about or sitting to help strengthen her muscles. I guess they become weak if not used and/or they will have to support the spine and take some of the pressure.

She has good days and bad days pain wise...and you do wonder if this is how it will be or whether with care she will be able to get back to a life something like she had before and initially the Doctors were hopeful that recovery will be much better than looked at first.

My own last blood test just before Christmas was not as good as it could've been and I was greeted one day by a letter telling me that my kidney function had reduced. However, at that test my blood pressure was abnormally low and so my blood pressure tablets were reduced. And my Consultant suggested the low blood pressure and tablets may've been the reason so I was asked to take another just before new year at my Dr's surgery. So far I have had no phone calls or letters so hopefully "No news is good news!" Unless there is a nasty surprise this coming Thursday.

Unfortunately, my other medical problem is playing up again...and it does restrict how long I go out, what I can do and how long :-(

But my Doctor says that I am right to sort one problem out before worrying about getting this fixed for a number of reasons.

So its a bit of a strange week ahead.

Oh those tablets that I lost before the New Year and I had to go to the hospital after Midnight to get a prescription(mentioned in an earlier blog entry)they turned up tonight out of the blue as we knew would happen at some point(oh well that gives us a few extra to play with)

I also got around to making another cocktail earlier which was a hit so I'll share it with you...

You can increase/decrease the measurements...

Don't ask what it's called(I don't know)

100ml Milk
40g Vanilla Ice Cream
Half a teaspoon of coffee
50 ml Bailey's Irish Cream Whisky(or similar)

Mix together and add a couple of ice cubes...


Thursday, January 15, 2009

New Lights For Old...

As I was leaving I noticed someone had a hand basket full to overflowing with lots of energy saving light bulbs. It turns out that they were those stick types...then outside was positive that there was a sign up saying that the supermarket was selling 100 of these in whatever wattage you wished for...40p!

I suspect that was wrong(or was it?)today(January 18th 2009) that notice had been removed and there was nothing in its place)

But still today as the offer stood(even though I dislike them)I found the offer(and perhaps this is what it should've been(or maybe I'd misread the notice)5 of the energy saving light bulbs(stick type)for 40p. I succumbed and purchased 5. I could've bought more but...I would guess we only have 16 bulbs in total across the whole house.

And most of the time we only use the lights in the room that we are in at the time. And as we spend most of our time upstairs in the bedrooms(we only use approx 4 at the most if that)my electric and gas use is keeping my radio and computers running.

Well, most of the new bulbs are rated to last approx 10000 hours(but in small they usually add that is if you only use for approx 2.7 hours a day)and I would guess that most people use most lights longer than that especially in an evening. Unless its the summertime. Also many do not manage to offer the most efficient energy rating...on a scale where G is the worst and A the best they usually come in below A.

What I dislike is that many of the new bulbs may not fit the sockets or lamps they are intended...If that can be corrected I may change my mind.

What I found today were at least said to be close to the 100 watt traditional bulbs.

So they may give me a more powerful light which is what I want. If not I hope they bring out some bulbs that are equivalent to the old 150watt bulbs but in reality when they are used they'll be more like the 100watt bulbs we've been using.

It is claimed that I'll save 80% of energy using these bulbs. Whether I do or not the problem is that the utility companies will still keep putting their prices up so in the end I'll not see any real savings in my pocket.

And here's another point(the supermarket is having these bulbs not manufactured in the UK or Europe)they are being made in China.

Again, I found some traditional 60watt bulbs at 15p each(and then for £1.37 a pack of 10 and I thought these will mean we can keep the glow on the electric fire going for a while longer(the new bulbs do not fit)so the fire will no longer be of use. When I reached the check out...the 10 bulbs only cost...15p.

So should there be any remaining later in the week I'll buy some more.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


A few days on and I've had a couple of smoothies...so far so good...delicious. I'll pop the recipes down at the end of the entry in case you wish to try them but really you can practically put into your smoothie whatever you wish.

If you want to get some fruit into your diet but are not really into eating fruit or too full this is a good way to do so. An example? I had spent approx £3.50 on some fresh fruit salad and pineapple. Put into a dish I can stretch that to 3-4 meals because if you've eaten a decent main course it doesn't take long to feel full. On the other hand remarkably, all that could probably be whizzed up in a smoothie machine and drunk and you'd still get all the goodness but not feel bloated.

It depends how many items you decide goes into the drink and what.

I maintain to some extent with smaller portions and careful shopping, you can make food go a long way and many items in the fruit and vegetable range(frozen/fresh)is inexpensive which as the government keeps running stories of how obese, unhealthy we are or will be and how it's a time bomb ticking away, they run numerous campaigns costing millions.

Unfortunately, if your budget is tight(and there's nothing wrong about this)you'll probably find your choice of fruit will be restricted to a few items such as apples, pears and oranges. But the experts and food magazines will push what are seen as super fruits such as grapes, strawberries, blackberries, cherries, raspberries, melons and blueberries amongst others and they are not cheap.

Of course I have had chance to decide whether my decision to buy a smoothie machine was a good idea...yes.

However, in the same supermarket today in a different area the same manufacturer has revamped the design and it's being sold at £5 less than I paid for mine. I also have to say that I can see no way that I can make only enough for one person and I will always have to make a slightly larger amount and depending on what I put into the smoothie I will have to consider either drinking an extra large one or actually waste some of what I make or try and put the unused portion into a container and put it in the fridge or freezer for another day if you can do that.

In time I may have to try and find another machine that makes smaller amounts in the future. It's not so bad for now because I have persuaded Mum to try them and she's given them a thumbs up so far so we can use what is made between us.

You can do cocktails in the smoothie maker but again...what with having to clean the machine afterwards and not being able to do small amounts, for cocktails unless I am doing one that fills a Highball glass, its just as easy to use a cocktail shaker.

Remember my hunt I to find Creamed Coconut? Eventually, I found some for as little as 54p(I think)in the local supermarket. Today, I found the same item by another company and its around 36p for 4 sachets in a box. It also says it's a new product on the box. And there's more...it's Organic!

By the way I am not making cocktails and smoothies every day just in case I give that impression.

Some smoothies are more healthy than others...

Creamy Blueberry and Vanilla Smoothie

360ml Lemonade
125g Vanilla Ice Cream
70g Blueberries

Put everything into a smoothie jug, lock down the lid and run at low speed for 10 seconds, then high for 10 seconds(if possible you can add some ice cubes and break/crush them)Pour into Highball glass or one of your own choosing

This will give two large glasses.

Another night I just happened to have many of the ingredients needed in the fresh fruit salad that was in the fridge so I threw it in the machine and added an extra items not in the list and again it was another nice combination. Measurements can be adapted.

Apple, Melon And Kiwi Fruit Smoothie

400ml Apple Juice(I used an apple)
1 Kiwi Fruit(peeled and roughly chopped)
150g Melon, roughly chopped
Ice Cubes

Put everything into the jug, Ice Cubes last. Run at low for 10 seconds, then run for 10 seconds at high.


The good thing about making these drinks is it does mean fruit that perhaps is ripe and might be wasted or possibly you might not get around to eating is less likely to be wasted so you could actually save money.

I am intrigued at the thought that I can make a vegetable smoothie and/or combine fruit and vegetable combinations and that will be my next venture. I am trying to decide if vegetables can only be juiced. As possibly(?)vegetables are more fibrous by their nature. Or perhaps like fruit smoothies you can use(if they have been scrubbed or peeled correctly)them too.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

American Cream Soda?

Well, I poured myself a long cocktail and I would still be in a lovely sleep if I had not been awoken from my slumber. It was one of the best so far, now before you think that I am a drunken old soak, the last alcoholic drink to pass my lips was 96 hours ago.

This one was suggested by a friend(the name of the cocktail was unknown)and a search on the net did prove less than informative but another friend Dickie Quickly thought it was known as an American Cream Soda and I was told that's what it tastes like...the closest I came to it was a Cary Grant but that misses out one ingredient. I cannot give exact measurements on this cocktail except to say that each item is equal.

Remember to be responsible with your drinking and to be the age that is acceptable for drinking in your country.

Here's the recipe:
1 part Vodka
1 part Lime Juice
1 Part Tia Maria
Ice cubes(You can either put in the glass)or shake in the cocktail shaker with the three items mentioned)
Pour into a High Ball glass.
Top up with Lemonade.

That's It!

I can see that I will have my favourites in time and I suppose I'll have a rota of cocktails I'll stick to and a core of ingredients. Vodka seems a pretty good base to many that contains alcohol.
Maybe I'm a little naive but I have been surprised at how cold(with or without ice)spirits/liqueurs are when you put them into the cocktail shaker for mixing.

And for the above cocktail I put the ice into the shaker and I was surprised how easily the ice broke up and quickly so depending on how long you keep shaking it can become too small or turn back into water.

It has now been suggested that no one can quite decide what to call the above cocktail but that it close to being a Black/White Russian if you leave out/adapt some of the ingredients such as coke and/or cream.

But of course I am now learning the delights of Smoothies and Milk Shakes alongside my cooking triumphs and failures so expect me putting up links to sites I find in my blog entries or down the side of the blog so they are not lost unless you access a particular entry, I will have to think about re-organising them in coming days.

Friday, January 09, 2009

He's A Smooth Operator...

That's the plan anyhow...

As mentioned I purchased a smoothie maker. I know very little about smoothies. I had thought for ages about buying a juicer(years)but there is so much variety and quality available in the shops and what it costs to buy fruit to make your own juice, I'm not really sure its worth the bother.

So when I saw a blender/smoothie machine manufactured by Russell Hobbs reduced by half I thought, it's now or never and if it is never used and ends up hidden away in that cupboard of kitchen gadgets never or rarely used I have not spent as much as I may've.

Now, on the other hand if I make myself use it there does appear to be some lovely drinks/deserts that I can make that will be both luxurious and/or healthy. I can use fruit or vegetables. It would appear that I can make milk shakes(though they don't actually say that)and also cocktails. And crush ice. But if I am only making enough cocktails for one drink or to be shared between two, it may be just as easy to carry on using a cocktail shaker.

However, some of the more unusual deserts/cocktails have fruit and ice cream/cream in them and this machine will allow me to do that. That will probably be not possible in a cocktail shaker.

It may not be possible, I need to look into this as there is no information included with the machine but possibly as it blends maybe that will open the door to some other ideas I have yet to experience such as homemade soups.

The worst thing may be all the extra items I may need to make my smoothies as many do seem to involve adding different types of yogurt etc...and other extras depending on which smoothie you are making.

Of course if/when I try it out I will post my experiences good or bad on here.

Now on the other hand something snook up on me(which considering I knew it was going to happen)I am surprised that I did not realise how close I was to the event.

You know that I have tried the new energy efficient light bulbs that are being forced upon the populations of Europe and eventually the world(I believe Australia is already in this situation)and I and many others are not impressed. The light is harsh, not as bright, many people are suffering migraines and find the light horrible to read by. Many lamps and light fittings are unable to take the new bulbs and so on.

Well, the law was passed that the bulbs we have been used to for approx 100 years will be phased out and you must use the new whether you want to or not.

Guess what? That deadline is the end of January...from that point you cannot purchase any 100watt bulbs. However, people have been stocking up on them and buying all the stock up for months so shops are no longer getting any in, when they are sold out...that is it! And people have done such a good job storing up on the older discontinued bulbs, you will probably find that there are not any on the shelves now.

I tried to buy some yesterday and as we are now down to only two shops on our town selling light bulbs(one a large supermarket and the other is a shop that has a bit of everything and a very small section for these products)it was not looking good for me and I wasn't disappointed. There is not one 100watt bulb available and even the 60watt bulbs are becoming rare.

So I guess I am stuck. I will have to look for the strongest bulbs possible, maybe use more to get a brighter room or actually switch them off and live in unlit rooms where possible.

The truth is this legislation has been rushed through without enough research and development to come up with bulbs that are acceptable and offer similar benefits. Am I unaware of any energy efficient bulbs that work in dimmer switches, that switch on immediately where you do not have to wait for them to reach their maximum brightness, that are coloured and so on.

In fact I realise already that two of our lights in the dining room and lounge will not work with the new bulbs so they will have to be replaced and we have an electric fire that Mum often switches on mainly for the glow(rather than to heat the room)as the bulbs illuminate some coloured stones...the new bulbs will be too large to fit inside the space under the stones so that will eventually be unusable.

I tried what was said to be one of the best energy efficient bulbs manufactured by a reputable company(Phillips)and given as a gift by British Gas in the passage that runs alongside the house and I absolutely hate it and I am happy to get what I have to do done as quickly as possible and get into the house into the light I have always been used to.

And if they are so good for the environment why do you have to dispose of them carefully by in special collection points and should you break one in the home, you are supposed to get out of the room and not return for maybe an hour(I assume this means some kind of powder has to settle)which I assume will coat the room so if you return you could still come into contact with that. And you are going to have to be careful clearing up the mess.

This has not been thought out well at all.

I would also guess that offices and shops are exempt from using these types of bulbs so once again it's the poor domestic householder that suffers.

I am not happy.

You have to take these stories with a pinch of salt but with the carry on over energy saving light bulbs anything is possible...what happens if you have already purchased a large plasma tv?

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

I've Found it!

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After much searching I found some Coconut Cream in the local supermarket manufactured by a company so far not suggested anywhere I have looked on the net or where it's talked of.

It's not the most famous of what's out there but because it is four individual sachets in a box I can use it sparingly and make it last rather than once opened having to use it quickly or throw it away. All you do, is heat a sachet in hot water.

And here's the best part, it only cost around 53p for a box. The box of powdered coconut milk I purchased the other day cost £1.99 and the famous brand of coconut cream advertised on the net is £2-£3 per can(plus a delivery charge)some sites you have to buy a case load. I hope it will always be available but you know what? It is not even mentioned anywhere on the official Patak's website.

Update:Whether it will be used or just sit on the kitchen worktop I have invested in a smoothie maker that offers the chance to make milk shakes, vegetable or fruit smoothies and even cocktails(and will also crush ice)It was half price so if it never gets used I have only wasted half of the money I would've. There will be times where using a cocktail shaker is easier and maybe quicker but some cocktails do require the inclusion of fruit or ice cream to give them a creamier texture so it could prove useful.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Any Old Port In A Storm...

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I was going to buy some Bailey's Irish Cream but found something similar that will be OK for me. Though to save only a silly amount of money maybe that's false economy(then again I think from memory, the bottle was larger)

However, I thought to myself, I have no sherry or port in my store. Sooner or later it may have to be used as an ingredient in a cocktail.

But there is so much choice. I could never buy all the different types available but most homes have always had one of each in the home in case company calls. Does anyone have an idea of one port and one sherry I can buy that will do to represent these types of wine? For some reason Ruby Port sticks in the mind? A bottle of sherry or port seemed to last months or years but looking at the information given on the bottles in the supermarket the suggestion is that you are supposed to use them within days or weeks of opening.

I wouldn't have a clue. I remember adverts over the years and certain names jump out at me but that still means nothing to me. I thought I'd be a little arty with the image above(some items are hidden behind the cartons but this my store of booze for the minute until I learn what I use most and everything is tidy and in some kind of order)

I am still finding it difficult to find Coconut cream locally but did find a carton of Coconut milk and according to the text on the box, it can be used as either where required(Directions suggest mixing it with warm water)

It is produced by Nestlé but a different supermarket may have the exact item that I am looking for. A city most certainly will(especially if there is an Asian food retailer/stockist) I have seen it on the net but to order only one item and pay postage and packing is crazy.

The on going situation is much the same as previous blog entries for both of us and really I cannot expect much else, its early days.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Cocktails...The Verdict!

So far I would say that a cocktail is an aquired taste but the more you get used to them you can say that your tastebuds become used to the combinations that you mix and therefore just as you get used to sugar in a cup of coffee or tea the same is true here.

So far I have not found any that I could not drink or would not consider having again. It is one way of getting a small amount of alcohol without binge drinking or over doing it and I suspect it does relax you, if you limit yourself to one or two at most and also have some that do not contain alcohol you should be ok. You can get fruit juice and or soft drinks into your system that perhaps otherwise you may not bother with. In my case as I am sharing my interest with Mum, so we are both able to benefit without over doing it.

Remarkably, I expected Mum turning her nose up at what I am making but so far she has been positive.

We've had a Snowball(lemonade, lime juice and advocaat)
Mum's The Word(orange juice, cherry brandy and vodka)
Cape Cooler(cranberry juice, soda water and vodka)I noticed this one gave me a warm glowing feeling which I rather liked.

There are many, many to try and I am sure as time goes by we'll find our favourites and find which are sweet, fruity, tangy, sour or whatever.

I was thinking about buying a blender to help crush ice for some cocktails but you know what, if you are not wanting to spend money on an expensive blender that you may never use or takes up a lot of space on a kitchen worktop...guess what, take some ice cubes...pop them into a plastic food bag, get a rolling pin or some heavy object and smash them(it's easy)and you'll have crushed ice, not unlike what you get in those slush puppie drinks that are sold in the shops.

Well, they would be if you can find a syrup or puree that is similar to what is included in the cup in your local shop. So you could in theory make your own at home with fruit juice and/or lemonade or something similar. Remember the Soda Stream system that allowed you to make your own soft drinks years ago at home(I understand that you can buy Slush Puppie syrup and machines for home use)

Adding ice to a cocktail will not only make the drink nice and cold but as the ice disolves it will dilute the strength of the other ingredients.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year!

May the coming year be very kind to you and yours.

Already there have been a mixture of stories in the media both happy and tragic. For me it's been better than I could hope and none of us know what the future holds. 1-15am and I've already had an hour of sleep in a cosy bed.

Before that it was a reasonably quiet night for Mum and myself, considering what the last 3 weeks have been like and it could've been we are still here for each other and have managed to bring in the New Year.

I put together a very quick buffet of cocktail sausages, crisps, pickled onions, cheese, sausage rolls, mini-savory eggs, salted peanuts and rolls containing some sliced pork with cranberry sauce.

And made my very first cocktail ever, initially a little weak but I just added a half a shot more of one ingredient(I could've reduced other ingredients instead)but then it was perfect and how I remember both the bought versions or those made by my Dad. No alcohol...ok...but I managed to make the small amount I mixed go a long way and give a drink to Mum and myself. (As she did not drink all of hers I got a bit extra)

So what did I make? If you want to try it yourself? A Snowball.
You can adapt the measurements to suit yourself and that will affect how thick the drink is but roughly it is...

2 shots of advocaat

1/4 shot of Lime Cordial, I used Lime Juice(from a fresh lime)To get more juice out of it, I popped it in hot water, lifted it out(Carefully)and rolled it. Cut it open and squeezed the juice into the advocat. Shaked the two ingredients together. Poured over a couple of ice cubes in a couple of glasses(if you are sharing)so large wine glasses are fine(otherwise, if you are making a decent drink for yourself, go for a large tumbler or hi-ball glass)

Top up with Lemonade.

And that's all there is to it!

How quiet it is around here, looking outside most houses appear to be in darkness and families seem to have gone to bed even before Midnight. Last year our new next door neighbours spent most of the night/early morning singing Karaoke this year is silence. The neighbours on the other side of us let off a few fireworks in their back garden(usually they are the quiet one's)but within 10 minutes it was quiet there too.

Think I'll do some radio listening, relax a little(that probably means I'll doze off)and have a little cup of tea.

Perhaps not the most exciting way to bring in a New Year or see out the old one but considering what a strange year it has been for many and the future could be, I'll settle for that.

Oh, whilst eating my buffet I managed to lose a tooth, it had on the cards for quite some time but seeing there was no pain and I wasn't eating anything hard it came as a little surprise and took me a little while to realise which one it was.

Update:Little if anything of the buffet remains(so that was a success)looks as though I have an order for a cocktail later today(the same or possibly an alternative)It's really quiet and not a soul to be seen neighbourwise. It seems cold outside but warm and cosy indoors. We've already had a visit from British Gas on the last day of the year so I guess that will be the first bill to drop on the mat in 2009.

I awoke with painful knees so have taken some pain killers, at least I have little to do and can take it easy. Mum is on her pain killers but still feeling the pain. I guess this is to be expected for some time and she can discuss her progress with her Dr when he visits again on Tuesday.