Recipes to pass on, here is the worlds easiest and quickest Jammy Swiss Roll

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It occurred to me the other day whilst I was making a Strawberry Swiss Roll in an attempt to coax both Flit and Bean to eat something after they had been poorly, that despite the fact that I have a large collection a staggering 67 I have just counted them of cookery books, I tend to use the same recipes that are now committed to memory in rotation. I have fail safe ideas for quick meals that the children will eat before we have to dash out of the door for riding or swimming, fool-proof dinner party staples which require me to be pouring and drinking wine and not reducing sauces in a kitchen bathed in a cloud of steam and irritation and cake and biscuit recipes so straightforward that they could I suspect be made on the side of a mountain.

I am frequently given recipe books on Birthdays and Christmas despite me preferring diamonds or riding boots and will spend many an enjoyable and self-indulgent hour or two pouring over the interesting looking recipes. As a rule I will probably try three or four of the recipes and then to my eternal shame the book goes to live with the other colourful and eclectic but sadly neglected cookery books in the kitchen and will if they are lucky be referred to once in a blue moon. I love any book with variety in but start to come out in hives at the 101 exciting and innovative ideas with mince, anything requiring fennel or being required to do more intricate manoeuvres than a quick stir. My attention level wanes easily and that is when burning and spoiling becomes inevitable.

Given that I am a child of the 70’s and it was at the time I believe the law; that during the long summer holidays children tended to be packed off by their parents for the day to yomp around fields with homemade lemonade which was really just sugar syrup with a dash of lemon juice and a box of shortbread type biscuits with the instruction to be back before dark. Thus whilst I will happily demolish a good steak so long as it has not been cooked for more than 30 seconds my preference is definitely for sweet things and sugar curses through my veins. I speak as the woman who had four desserts on her wedding day rather than the wedding breakfast.

So today dear readers here is my Jammy Swiss Roll recipe to pass on. It will never let you down, can be whipped up in about 15 minutes from the crack of the first egg until it is on a plate and ready to eat and will provide much-needed comfort on soggy days. It might not soothe the troubled economy but it is raining here today and it will lift your spirits at the very least. Oh and there is not any butter or fat in it so it is practically a health food in my opinion.

You will need the following:

4 eggs, 4 ozs of caster sugar and 4ozs of plain flour.

Turn your oven on to approximately 150. I can’t be more precise as my oven is at least 20 years old and the temperature is temperamental at best, but a medium warm oven. Take 4 eggs and separate the yolks from the whites. Using a hand whisk, whisk the whites until they are stiff enough for a bowl to be held over your head and the contents not to flop onto you. Add half of the sugar and give a quick whisk. Whisk the yolks until they go a creamy colour and add the remainder of the sugar. Mix both white and yoke mixtures into the flour and pour into a lined swiss roll tin and put into the oven and bake until light brown. Turn out onto a sugared tray or chopping board, spread jam, strawberry is the favourite here and roll into….er…a roll shape. Eat immediately or wait until cool and serve with lashings of warm custard. Or leave a day and slice up for a packed lunch treat.

Enjoy.

…….when life becomes a little trying I heartily recommend a long, overdue and boozy Uni. reunion…….

I am not for one minute suggesting that we go back to this as I have discovered one of the positive sides of technology………….

I hold my hands up and admit I am somewhat of a Luddite when it comes to technology. I am a very recent convert and view it with a great deal of scepticism and general suspicion. I tend to favour a more traditional approach to things and have happily let the world carry on at lightning speed whilst I potter along behind shouting at random items of equipment when they didn’t do what I want. I wouldn’t go as far as advocating carrier pigeons and smoke signals however I do think that old-fashioned letters and notes are rapidly being replaced by stark, instant and somewhat cold forms of communication such as text messages and emails.

However, about nine months ago I finally admitted that I was the last person in The Western World to have dodged Facebook and signed up. I spent a couple of giddy winter evenings looking at people’s profiles, being slightly bemused by some of their interests and likes who would have suspected an interest in mounted butterfly’s and had a cursory flick through pictures of their children, dogs and holiday snaps. I certainly did not use it as a tool to look at ex-boyfriends, that would have been very silly I can tell you. A few days later I was clearing out a cupboard containing the usual detritus of life and I stumbled upon some long-forgotten photographs that had been taken whilst at University. So began the ‘I wonder what they are doing now ?….’ questions. Aided by the modern miracle that is Facebook I was promptly up to date with all the births, marriages and deaths from the last 16 or so years.

Emails were rapidly exchanged by all of my old house-mates and the two other dear friends who more or less lived there. I tentatively suggested we should all meet up and reminisce about our child-free, freedom filled and booze-soaked days and the resounding response was an absolutely.  After much changing and revising of dates due to one person forgetting her father’s birthday we eventually found a date that suited all of us and the countdown began.

As the date drew closer I started to worry that we might all have changed so much in the intervening years that we would sit in silence and stare at our hands. Or long-forgotten arguments would be resurrected and finally settled by an impromptu dual and the ultimate death of one of the party. Or that we would all be so exhausted with our current lives involving children, working and commuting that we would be in bed for 9pm after the lure of a night’s sleep uninterrupted by small children, proved too great.

My fears were needless, sixteen years evaporated in seconds and suddenly we were all back to being students, teasing each other about events from many years ago and retelling long forgotten dramas. Old photos were passed round, the sun shone in the Park and the wine flowed for many hours. We beat a hasty retreat when our aging bones started to become stiff after sitting in the long grass for hours and sought the comfort of the local pub and so the conversation continued and even more wine was drunk. I can honestly say I have not laughed and relaxed as much in a long time and whilst I was somewhat delicate the following morning whilst the band played badly and out of tune in my head a walk down by the Thames soon cleared my mind. I have returned home relaxed and with a bounce in my step.

Our reunion at the weekend…..honestly!

Some people believe that to go back to and revisit your old life albeit briefly is a backwards step and an indication that all is not well in your current life. Others believe you keep in touch with those of importance whilst other people whom you knew go off in different directions and cease to be part of your life on a day-to-day basis. They are resigned to being part of your personal history but no longer an active part in your life. Personally I believe that sometimes good friends fall off the radar through no fault of anybodies but purely because life in your early Twenties, fresh from University is fast-paced and hectic. I think that it is quite healthy to go back sometimes to eat – a little, drink vast quantities and be very merry and remember life before we all grew up, got proper jobs and became adults.

This weekend for a brief period a gaggle of grown-ups got together from the various parts of this Island and once again were carefree students at University in London albeit with a few more wrinkles, hair that was coloured or thinning and with more life experiences which have given us happiness and sadness in various measures. I think this is the beginning of an annual reunion for us all, I certainly hope so and if various husbands/wives/partners and children promise not to interrupt our reminiscing then they may be allowed to join in next year too…….or maybe not.

Much love and thanks to The Gang, I had a blast. x

Sad news from The Barbour Residence, being a grown up is not much fun sometimes….

There once was a girl who meet a much older boy. He made her laugh until she thought her head would fall off, they shared similar values and goals, well apart from newspapers. He was and still is for some unknown reason loyal to The Times whilst girl is a loyal Telegraph reader. Girl thought that their differences over newspapers would not be a stumbling block and it certainly paled into insignificance when their musical choices were examined.

Anyway, not long a brief four months truth be told after meeting girl moved from her beloved London to be with boy, embracing country life with ease and only occasionally yearning for her old life. She started working in a large city so had the hum of people during the day and the peace of the country at other times. Boy had a dog which Nutter ex-girlfriend had abandoned which he inherited when aforementioned ex ran off with new chap decided the relationship was over. Girl meets Dog and fell in love; not in a let me put bows in your hair and talk to you in a high-pitched crazy voice way but in a it’s been a bugger of a day let’s go for a walk down the lane and I will moan and you will ignore me and chase birds/look at cows or stare at sheep way, but all will be right with the world afterwards.

After about six months Girl decides that Dog needs a companion and Boys birthday is nearing and given that boy has most things he needs remember he is old there have been quite a few birthdays already Girl decides Dog needs a chum. Boy is allowed to choose new dog and falls for a cute 8 week old puppy one of a litter abandoned by the roadside. We pass our home check with flying colours despite Boy Dog attaching himself to the very nice ladies thigh who came to interview us and despite the heavy aroma from Boy Dogs flatulent bottom. Boy Dog welcomes new puppy with some vigorous sniffing and rough and tumble playing in the garden which on the third day results in a broken leg for puppy. Many hours are spent driving up the motorway and signing credit card bills with lots of zeros on to see a lovely Vet who specialises in mending puppy bones and Puppy recovers, although she can never fully stretch out her back leg when she sleeps but it doesn’t bother her unduly.

Many walks are taken, hedges peeded on, beaches walked along and chickens sniffed by Puppy who grows up to be a fine dog with a sweet nature. Then fast forward eleven and a half years to today. After a blood transfusion last week was unsuccessful and numerous drugs and treatments have made little difference we have decided that we can see her suffer no longer. Her red blood cells are not being replaced and slowly breathing is becoming the hardest thing for her to do. As I type I see her lying on her bed trying with all her might to keep going. There is no chance of improvement and so we have an appointment at the Vets this evening.

When Boy Dog died it was 6 years ago when he was on the operating table for a twisted bowel so there was no decision to be made. This has been one of the hardest things we have had to do. When Husband went to work this morning he said with great big tears in his eyes sometimes being a grown up is not much fun and today I have to agree with him.

Girl Dog, a sweet little soul with a love for the seaside. Thank-you to a dear friend who took this picture on Tuesday.

Right that’s it, I have had enough of this weather, where has our Summer gone? I need sunshine………

The other day, as I pretended to tidy the house whilst actually waiting for a break in the rain in order to go and clean the chicken coops I found myself wishing I was somewhere, anywhere in fact with a warmer climate.

Where would I go if I could just step on a plane without thinking about the horror that is packing to go away? I have a very relaxed attitude to packing, I hate it with such a passion that I avoid it until the very, last possible moment. There was the time many years ago when myself and The Not-Yet-Husband were traveling out to spend Easter at my soon to be parents-in-law in Cape Town. I rose early on the morning of the flight and began to pack a few books, makeup and some clothes. I threw in some shoes, a few more pairs of linen trousers and closed the case. I then set about packing for The Not-Yet-Husband, we had only been living together for a few months and so were still in that giddy everything you do is so sweet, funny or thoughtful stage. A stage which has long since passed I can assure you. So I packed for him in about 10 minutes and kept ignoring all the pacing he was doing and all the irritating questions he insisted on asking. We grabbed our passports, tickets and luggage and drove to the airport.

After a long but very pleasant flight down to Cape Town, remember this was pre-children so the flight was actually enjoyable in that I read a book, watched a film, ate passable food at normal speed and slept when I felt the need. We arrived to a lovely warm summers day and were welcomed by the in-laws for a few hours before they flew off to Namibia and The Skeleton Coast. All was well until the now Husband went to shave, shower and generally freshen up.

The first hint that anything was amiss was surprisingly quick;

” Darling which suitcase did you put my wash bag in? ” he asked

” Which  wash bag do you mean? ” was my sleepy response.

” I only have one ” he replied slightly edgily.

” Bugger ” I whispered, having only a hazy recollection of said wash bag and I could imagine it quite clearly in our bathroom at home.

” Is that the one will all your medicines in? ” I inquired

” Er, yes that’s the one ” came the reply.

Just to compound the matter it very swiftly became apparent that none of his underwear had made the trip with us either. In my haste to pack he had plenty of shoes including a pair, I later found out that he had not worn for ten or so years. He was also very well supplied with shorts, trousers and a jumper, but alas not for pants or any life-preserving diabetic medicines. He was forced to hurriedly borrow a fresh pair from his father once he had showered so we could go to the local Mall and find some replacements after we had also been to see the local Doctor to get all the medications that I had left on the kitchen table………

Thankfully we had two other couples who are friends of ours flying out the following day to join us and so they were able to do an emergency dash to collect the medication from our house on their way to the airport. Unsurprisingly I have not be asked to do the packing for The Husband since.

So, if I could just go anywhere, with a bag packed by someone other than myself where would I go? Look below, it’s just about perfect in my opinion. Now I just need to sell all my worldly possessions, uproot The Gaggle from school, work out how to transport twenty-two chickens and two dogs across two continents, conquer my fear of massive spiders, work out how many Tanzanian Shillings there are to the UK Pound, sell a house oh and break the news to The Husband that he is moving. I think he will take the news surprisingly well…..

Oh how I wish this was our back garden…….obviously with some chickens then it would be perfect. This is a beach on Zanzibar which unfortunately is approximately 4694 miles from where we live and significantly warmer. I was last there over ten years ago and I <<stamps feet>> want to go back. Or maybe KwaZula-Natal or Mozambique although my Portuguese is non-existent and my Swahili very basic, but I could learn……..

Oh dear…..Husband is going through a carpentry phase again………….

Imagine if you will a conversation between myself and my Husband this morning that was vaguely as follows;

Me: “some of those pullets are going to be quite large when they get to Point of Lay so I might look at coops at the next Mart”

Husband: “Don’t panic dear, I have it all in hand, I am planning on building a really big coop so that there is only one coop for you to clean and all the girls can be in the same place together and snuggle up when it gets cold”

Me: (bemused expression) “Really? That sounds like a rather large undertaking darling……….”

The voice in my head is screaming “Noooo, you have clearly taken leave of your senses and lost any sense that you were born with. How have you forgotten the removal of the wardrobes from a house we were renovating which resulted in your knocking down a wall? Or that summer evening many years ago when very heavily pregnant with Flit I thought that it would be a bonding experience for us to attempt, together, to put up the coving in the dining room. It was only the miraculous powers of half a tub of filler and five coats of paint that disguised our ineptness. Oh how the neighbours must have laughed that evening. After many hours of lively discussion about the best way to mount said coving I opened our front door at the exact moment our lovely neighbours, who in all the five years we lived beside them never so much as whispered loudly at each other; arrived home from a pleasant evening out to be greeted by the sight of me throwing your car keys into the flower bed and peppering the night air with some agricultural language.

Or who could forget Curtain Pole Gate?” Upon finding out that our usual ‘man who can do all the things that Husband can’t’ was busy and we had a clutch of viewers lined up for the following day, Husband attempted to hang a curtain pole in our newly constructed and freshly decorated bedroom. After over an hour had passed with an amazing amount of drilling, I could contain myself no longer and so armed with a reviving cup of tea I went upstairs to check on his progress. The bed was festooned with a spirit level, a drill and a tool box and there were screws all over the floor. Husbands face said all was not going well. Then I looked at the curtain pole which was listing from side to side at such an angle it appeared we were actually in the middle of a force nine gale. If I had affixed the curtains to the pole they would have fallen off and formed a large puddle on the floor. In between howls of laughter from me I am ashamed to say, I managed to plead with our ‘usual man who can’ and happily he arrived the following morning just after 7am to perform life saving surgery on the curtain pole. None of the viewers that afternoon were any the wiser as to the previous days traumas. He may be many things but being handy around the house is most certainly not one of them.

So when Husband went out to get a copy of The Telegraph this morning I spoke to The Gaggle and informed them of their Father’s intentions to build a coop, Flit the oldest replied “I really don’t think it is a very wise plan”. Bean, started to shake her head and muttered “Oh dear no?” whilst Rhino carried on eating a Brioche with far too much jam in it, in a way only the young and carefree can manage during worrying times.

So how do I stop my husband from attempting this act of lunacy? I fear that if he starts building a coop it will take many months and probably cost more than if we commissioned Viscount Linley himself to make it. I am also acutely aware that very soon our garden would resemble a Saw Mill. So I have decide that the only possible courses of action open to me are to either hide his saw and tool box or to consider asking our electricity provider to cut us off……candles at bedtime and no television for a few months seems like a small price to pay to avoid the inevitable coop building project I think.

This is what Husband thinks he would produce…….after 6 months labour and a budget of approximately £2,347.83p….I have my doubts.

From Running Late for a Fur and Feather Mart to 2 Kitchen Chickens in one easy step…………How ?

Last Friday evening I mentioned to my beloved husband that there was a Fur and Feather Sale in a town about an hours drive from here, that I would like to go to the following day. So a plan was hatched to rise early get the gaggle of children fed, dressed and with their teeth brushed so that we could leave the house at 9am at the absolute latest……yes the best laid plans and all that…

We actually left the house at 9.45am with two of the children taking their toast with them to eat in the car, daughter who is known as Bean had dressed herself without any input from an adult and as a result looked liked a shorter version of Margot from The Good Life complete with scarf in her hair all that was missing was the kaftan. Nobody had any recollection of helping Rhino – the youngest child brush his teeth so we are still unsure as to whether he left the house with clean teeth or not, personally I suspect the latter.

So we arrived at The Mart late, there were so many people there already it was quite impossible to get a good view of what was in the cages and the bidding had already started and was marching on at a terrific pace. So we did not start from a promising position, my husband then asked for our bidder number and before I could issue instructions as to what had managed to catch my eye in the brief minute we had been there he was gone at speed and very quickly unable to be seen  by any of us. The minutes ticked by and I managed to keep The Gaggle amused looking into the cages and cooing adorably at all the cute, fluffy, furry things and suddenly Husband was back looking slightly bemused and winded.

“How did you get on?” I enquired,

“Well, I bought a couple of things” he replied and then started to look shifty and started mumbling.

“Shall we all go and get a cup of tea?” he asked. Now I am not certain but I am sure that some of the wise old sage like Farmers who were stationed close by started to giggle and they too began to mumble something unintelligible to each other.

“How about you tell me what you bought?” I asked a little more forcefully now and through gritted teeth aware that we were acquiring an audience with every second passing

“I would rather not” came the reply. Well to cut a long story short, I finally managed to prise out of my husband that he had bought 4 Marans, age unknown but I suspect about 16 weeks old and 2 slightly stunned looking 7 week old Chicks….yes that’s right he bought chicks that had probably still been on heat lamps just days before. Well they were scruffy, needing to put some fat on and lacking in feathers which is how they came to be our resident Chicks in the Kitchen for 4 days whilst we waited for the coldest weekend in recent memory to pass.

Obviously the Gaggle of Children were thrilled to have them in the kitchen on a semi-permanent basis rather than for the usual few minutes stuffed up their jumpers which is normally what happens if I turn my back. I on the other hand as Chief Chicken Vet was less than thrilled with the arrangements. I desperately wanted to liberate them from the confines of the kitchen as the smell which greeted me each morning was horrific, chicken poo is one of the smelliest substances known to man. So after much discussion with The Gaggle I managed to palm them off onto one of our older hybrids Daisy on Day 4. She took to her instant family without problem but as a result of this enforced motherhood has now gone broody….I suppose I would be wise to laugh at the bizarre moments in my life and will not be letting my bidding card out of my sight if we are within 100 metres of a Mart thats for sure.

In my Husbands defence he claims that he bought the Chicks as a humanitarian act. Whilst he was looking at the birds in the cages a teenager kept poking the two little chicks and he felt sorry for them……..no more bidding for him I think or our 22 girls, yes you did read that correctly our 22 girls will complain!

Meet Rose, she is about 8 weeks old here and the size of a bag of sugar, including feathers.

Silver Mist the little white Mille Fleur Bantam and Delilah a Black Rock. With the dog in the background plotting revenge on a squirrel……

 

 

 

 

 

Desert Island Discs………your thoughts please?

Try as I might the notion of music playing in the house all day generally brings me out in hives, it stops me from concentrating and after a while can make me somewhat snappy. I find that my musical tastes do not generally collide with that of my husbands; a fact for which I am very grateful as he is old hence the gaping chasm that exists in our differing tastes. If I want to subject the house to a rather disparate mixture of music I have an iPod which does the job perfectly well and thankfully remains unchanged from one year to the next and so I never need to be troubled by the dreadful sounds that appear to be permanently on Radio 1.

Instead I find great comfort in the gentle background ramblings and hum of Radio 4. The radio gets switched on first thing in the morning when I boil the kettle for the first coffee of the day and it then stays on until the last person heads upstairs to bed at night. It entertains the dogs who are I believe huge fans of The Afternoon Play, they nod sagely to the various up and downs in The Archers and have probably gained some invaluable advice on Inheritance Tax from Money Box. I adore Radio 4 and Desert Island Discs has a particular place in my heart. I love the guests who have just picked their eight favourite songs that mean a lot to them and I don’t really care that people find them low brow and I secretly adore listening to the insufferable snobs who have chosen their tracks as they think that it will make them sound learned and intellectual when we all know they actually listen to The Birdie Song and know Agadoo word for word.

Well in case you were wondering my list in no particular order would be as follows;

1. Samuel Barber – Adagio for Strings but very partial to the trance version by William Orbit as well. <<appears learned for a second and then introduces the notion of trance and lowers the tone>>

2. Blue Oyster Cult – Don’t Fear the Reaper. << lowers tone slightly further >>

3. Metallica – For Whom the Bell Tolls << blog explodes >>

4. Delerium featuring Sarah McLachlan – Silence <<……>>

5. Gotye Somebody That I Used to Know – a friend recently posted a link on Facebook about this and I adore it.

6. Beth Orton – Don’t Need a Reason. << not me being snippy but the actual title >>

7. REM – The Great Beyond.

8. South African National Anthem – if you ever watch it on You Tube it tends to be sung by The Springboks with the rather yummy Lock Victor Matfield singing his heart out.

The Bible, ah yes a tricky one this my initial reaction to this was definitely not. A very strict Convent School Education has meant that I am out the other side and a committed atheist so it would be little use to me….however I could always use it as a door stop if I built a house to let the sea breeze circulate or to kill large spiders with as I am assuming my Desert Island will be off Africa so for that alone worth packing for. << waits for a large bolt of lightening to strike >>

The Complete Works of Shakespeare – I am not a fan, I hold my hands up and admit yes I am a philistine but I put that down to being dragged to a Theatre many miles away in Newcastle on the same night as Anthrax a band I was particularly fond of in my youth were playing at the next door theatre so the cards were always going to be stacked against dear William, but maybe now is the time for a rematch?

My Luxury Item – oh, this is so difficult a photo album of my family or a pen and paper, after much reflection the album wins.

My Book – without a doubt it would be Rainbows End by Lauren St John, a memoir of a childhood growing up in what was Rhodesia. It has the freedom that I wish I could give my children and which I experienced to an extent growing up in Hampshire however it would be definitely be without the violence and bloodshed St John experienced.

So there you go the Desert Island Disc choices of womaninabarbour, what about you…….?