As a stay at home mum and housewife I don't have any problem with the fact most of the household chores fall into the pink category, and today was one of those days where I actually fulfilled my Job Description of being a "stay at home housewife." I was home for most of the day and actually achieved some housewifely duties.
The day started, however, with a job I would say is more a blue than a pink job....a trip to the dump! But seeing as that would have to be fitted in on a Saturday for my husband, I would rather do it myself and then have Saturday free for some family activities.
As you can see, my little Clio was backed to the gunnels (good old nautical expression there) from the fruits of our labour on Saturday. It was rather a long job, I couldn't park near the bay where most of my rubbish had to go, in fact I don't think I could have been directed any further away, however, there was no choice in the matter so I just had to grit my teeth and get on with it. Thankfully one of the guys was very helpful and took a load off my hands at one point.
After all the walking backwards and forwards at the dump, I decided a sit down job was in order. A pile of "things to mend" had accumulated in the corner of my bedroom so out came the sewing box and I enjoyed a pleasant half hour or so in the warm sunshine, listening to the children in the primary school opposite our house, enjoying their playtime.
Looking at my sewing box, I thought that too was packed to the gunnels! It hasn't closed for years...whenever I see it I reminded of the Bible verse "my cup runneth over." Reels and scissors are always spilling out from it...but I don't want to replace it as it was given to me by one of my "old ladies" about 30 years ago.
Whilst sewing I was struck at how infrequently I actually have to mend clothes, years ago I am sure it was a more or less non stop job for a housewife. I suppose most of our clothes nowadays are either all manmade fibres or a mixture, and that has made them so much more durable. I enjoy a spot of sewing and so the sit down was doubly enjoyable. That's not to say it didn't have its irritating moments...like not being able to see the eye of the needle to thread it......and that was with my glasses on ( well they were last years prescription so maybe that had something to do with it?) It took me back to being a little girl and staying with my grandmother. She got the sewing bug during the late 60's and spent many hours making herself dresses with the newly available crimplene fabrics, mostly using a princess line pattern ( I used to think that sounded so grand!) She could rarely, however, thread the needle on her Jones Brothers sewing machine ( which I still have) or the hand needles needed for sewing on buttons and hems. That particular job was mine, I used to really enjoy it actually, doing something so very useful and so quickly. Not all chores we were given as kids could do done from the comfort of an armchair that's for sure! So now, here I am, wishing someone with a younger pair of eyes was around to thread my needles for me....maybe I need to save those jobs for when my daughter is home.
Lunch today was a slice of freshly baked wholemeal bread, which I would like to say was baked by me, but sorry, it was fresh from Morrisons! On top I had a new Moroccan Butternut Squash dip, which I thought would make a tasty and fairly healthy topping. Fresh spinach leaves make a regular appearance in our diet these days. Not only are they fairly cheap, they are fairly tasteless...that doesn't sound like a good advert for them...but cooked spinach I find a little too strong, and rocket I think is bitter, so spinach is the chosen superfood for us at the moment. I had already been using it regularly when I was advised by my optician to eat plenty of it, to help control the "protein spots" he could detect starting in my eyes. Kurly Kale is also good for this, so why not grab yourself a bag next time you are shopping and be kind to your eyes!
I only took a picture of what was my delectable lunch as I was struck by the lovely vivid colours. I had a refreshing cup of peppermint tea to wash it all down....yum!
After yesterday's discovery of our uninvited houseguests, I started to worry about other places that don't often get to see the light of day...or the vacuum cleaner! My first thought was the linen cupboard up in the attic, that would surely be a food fest for any little critters wanting to settle somewhere quiet, warm and cosy! So, there was nothing for it but to empty the whole lot. It was rather a daunting task to be honest, but having started it I was determined to finish the job. An hour or so later I had a very organised...and I am pleased to say...a moth free cupboard. I found several items which we really don't need anymore so brought them downstairs ready to donate to charity the next time a bag arrived through the letterbox. Imagine my delight when I saw one had just been posted! I was particularly pleased it was for Child Cancer...having two healthy children is something I am always thankful for. A friend of mine lost her 8 year old daughter to leukemia when mine were very small, so I am acutely aware of the grief such a loss brings.
With the clock showing almost 3pm, it was time to think about dinner. "Waste not want not" is a saying we grew up with and where food is concerned it seems a real crime to throw away anything leftover. Leftovers often produce meals tastier than the original dish! Today's dinner is chicken and mushroom pie, using the left over chicken from Sunday's roast. Campbell's condensed mushroom soup has been a good store cupboard staple for several members of my family and I was really sad when they stopped making it for a while. It came back rebranded under the Bachelors label at one point, but is now back with the original label. Its one of the many items I grew up believing to be quintessentially English, then when we lived in New England for a while back in the 90's, I discovered most of these things were actually of American origin.
I always make my pastry using the "half and half" method, that being, half the weight of fat to flour. I also have always used half white fat and half marg. For some time now I have used Trex, it's more expensive than the lard I had used for so many years, but I have to say, it makes a better pastry. I have never been brave enough to just use Trex, which I imagine is the same as the Americans "white shortening," maybe one day I will.
I don't know if you can see, but under the mixer is a set of electronic scales...I had resisted owning them for a while, preferring my traditional ones...but now I wouldn't be without them, they are so much easier to use! If you don't own a set....treat yourself!
As far as making pastry is concerned I am rather lazy...it all goes in the food processor, gets rolled out straight away and cooked straight away. No popping in the fridge to rest and then rolled etc. I probably don't get "Mary Berry" results every time it has to be said, but life is just too short for some things!
Keeping on the "waste not want not" theme, the left over pastry pieces get a new lease of life too. When making savoury pastry they invariable end up as "cheese and Marmite" sticks. Marmite is popular with all members of our household and the sticks are really easy to make. Just roll out the left over...spread some marmite on... add a layer of grated cheese....fold in half....roll again...top with more grated cheese.
I put the uncut pastry on a baking tray then slice up, they break apart easily once cooked. As you can see, they are no "lookers" but add a tasty treat to a lunchbox, and much better than throwing away.
I go for the "family style" look with my baking these days, no fussing or fiddling around. An 80 yr old friend in America used to use that expression to describe food that was good and wholesome but with no frills and I think it rather suits my style of cooking!