Category: UK

Delicious Home Made Pickled Beetroot

Delicious Home Made Pickled Beetroot

Our good friend and close neighbour Mick regularly supplies us with fresh vegetables grown on his allotment located across the road from us.

Mick has had his allotment for over fifty years, planting vegetables and even fruit trees.

One of my favourite vegetables he grows for harvesting each autumn time are beetroots. Mick grows a popular type called ‘Boltardty AGM’. Boltardy seeds can be sown at various times during the growing year and in most types of soil. It does not have excessive ‘bolting, a gardening term, which means premature sprouting of stalks flowering stem(s). Bolting can divert resources & nutriment from the beetroot and reduce it’s quality.

All Photos By PH Morton

After harvesting, Mick then produces jars of delicious slightly sweet pickled beetroot for his family and us. We save a jar for Christmas time. Beetroot is perfect to accompany Christmas meals.  This year, Mick invited me to harvest some of his beetroot. He then showed us how to make his ‘signature’ pickled beetroot. I took various photos from harvesting to our jars filled with delicious picked beetroot. Under Mick’s tutelage and help, Jean & I enjoyed producing our own jars of this delicious vegetable. Making pickled beetroot is quite simple & straightforward. 🙂

If using home grown beetroots from garden or allotment etc., a good time to harvest is from 50 to 70 days after planting. Avoid letting the beetroot get too big. A hand or tennis ball size is ideal. Do not let the stalks/stems bolt or grow above 6 inches (15cms). Dig around the beetroot and pick up avoiding breaking the stalk/greens from the beetroot.

Thoroughly clean & wash the dirt off and trim the stalks/stems short. Again do not pull out the stems, as water can get into the beetroot and damage it when boiling prior to pickling.

Harvested fresh beetroot can be stored in a refrigerator for about seven days.

Depending how many beetroots you are pickling, you will require:-

  1. Pickling /preserve jars with airtight lids. The normal size is around 500ml, or as large as you want. Most hardware stores will supply.
  2. Pickling vinegar, which comes in 1.4 litre size. Most larger supermarkets etc supply.
  3. Brown or white sugar granules to sweeten the vinegar taste to your choice.

Place the beetroots in a suitable sized saucepan(s) and cover with water.

Boil for two hours.

Carefully strain off the water and either allow air cooling or running cold water over the beetroots then dry.

Completely remove remaining stalks/roots etc.

The boiled soft skin of the beetroot does not need to be peeled with a knife as can be easily removed by hand.

Cut or slice the beetroot to whatever size you prefer.

Pour in small amount sugar, then add a small measure of the pickling vinegar, enough to cover the first layer of the slices of beetroot into the bottom of the jar.  Sprinkle with a teaspoon of sugar (to taste) then add another layer, pour pickling vinegar, then another layer, sugar, pickling vinegar until it reaches the top of the jar.

Close the jar, gently shake it then turn it upside down and leave for about 30 minutes. This will allow the vinegar and sugar to seep through the beetroot. Top up with the pickling vinegar if needed to completely cover the sliced beetroot in the jar.

If you want you can label the jar with day & month of pickling.

Home made pickled beetroot can be kept for 6 weeks to 3 months, refrigerated.
In practice, it can be longer.

But if you store them beyond 3 months and you’re worried, check for signs of spoilage (rising bubbles, cloudy liquid, unnatural colour) and don’t eat or taste.

Chicken & Vegetable Broth Recipe

Chicken & Veg Broth, photo by PH Morton

 

Chicken & Vegetable Broth Recipe

October might be autumn in the UK but there is already a touch of the wintry weather especially at night.  We even have had to turn on the gas central heating to take out the the chill in the house.

Last night, it was fairly chilly again and thank goodness, we have the ingredients to make a chicken and vegetable broth for an easy supper.  A liberal sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper (as seen of the photo above) added heat to a delicious soup.

 

Ingredients

  • 2oz butter
  • 2 onions, peeled and sliced
  • 2 sticks celery, finely chopped
  • 100g kale, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled, finely chopped
  • 2oz plain flour
  • 2 pints chicken stock
  • 1lb cooked chicken, skinned and shredded
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method of Preparation:

  1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat and gently fry the onions, celery and carrots until they start to soften.  Then mix in the kale.

  2. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock and bring the mixture to the boil, stirring as you do so. Season with salt and pepper, then reduce the heat until the mixture is simmering and simmer for 10 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

  3. Add the cooked chicken and cook until heated through. Adjust the seasoning, stir in the parsley and serve.

  4. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper 🙂

Mushroom Soup Recipe

Mushroom Soup, photo by JMorton

Mushroom Soup Recipe

Ingredients

  • 600 g mixed mushrooms
  • 1 onion
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • a few sprigs of fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • olive oil
  • 1.5 litres organic chicken or vegetable stock
  • 75 ml single cream
  • extra virgin olive oil

Method

  1. Brush the mushrooms clean, then finely slice.
  2. Peel and finely slice the onion, celery and garlic, then pick the parsley, finely chopping the stalks. Pick the thyme leaves.
  3. Heat a splash of olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat, add the onion, celery, garlic, parsley stalks, thyme leaves and mushrooms, pop the lid on and cook gently until softened.
  4. Spoon out 4 tablespoons of mushrooms, and keep for later.
  5. Pour the stock into the pan and bring to the boil over a medium heat, turn the heat down to low and simmer for 15 minutes.
  6. Season to taste with sea salt and black pepper, then whiz with a stick blender until smooth.
  7. Pour in the cream, bring just back to the boil, then turn off the heat.
  8. Spoon the soup into bowls, garnish with the chopped parsley and remaining mushrooms, and serve with the ciabatta crostini on the side.

Oxtail Soup Recipe

Oxtail Soup, photo by JMorton

Oxtail Soup Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1.25kg/2lb 12oz oxtail, trimmed of fat and cut into pieces
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
  • 1 large carrot, roughly chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 2 tsp tomato purée
  • 300ml/10½fl oz red wine
  • 1.5 litres/2½ pints litres beef stock
  • 1 tbsp plain flour

Brown Derby Pudding

Brown Derby Pudding, photo by JMortonBrown

Brown Derby Pudding

This delicious pudding is so easy to make.

For the base, use a ring donut.

Mix some vanilla ice-cream with whip cream.  Pipe this mix over the donut as per the photo above.

Sprinkle some pounded nuts and finally drizzle with softened dark chocolate.

Fun and fantastic dessert.

Camera Obscura – Magic

Greenwich, photo by PH Morton

Camera Obscura Image on a table, photo by PH Morton

Camera Obscura – Magic

The lens, Photo by PH Morton

Summerhouse in the Meridian Courtyard housing the Camera Obscura with doorway with black curtains, photo by JMorton

It was my second time to visit the Camera Obscura, located at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, South London.

The first time we went which was the autumn of 2013, Peter excitedly insisted that we enter into this building complete with a doorway shrouded in black curtains. Inside was pitch black, as dark as the night.

In the middle of this fairly tiny room,  probably 4square metres (only 6-8 people allowed in at any given time), was a polish table which looked to me like a white marble.  We all looked at the table and thought there was nothing really special about it.  Just an empty table.  We went out of the room absolutely perplexed and disappointed, the same look and feeling on the other faces that had also went in and out with us. We were all asking?  What was that about?!!!

Yesterday was a glorious warm and sunny day.  While at Greenwich Royal Observatory, Peter, Stacey, Nathan and I went into the black shrouded doorway and on the table was a real time panoramic projection of an image of Greenwich.  People can be seen moving on the projected image.  Finally we understood what this camera obscura was about!  🙂 🙂 🙂

Camera obscura (from Latin words: camera, meaning room and obscura, meaning dark) uses a natural optical phenomenon projected from a small hole, a pinhole.  This has something to do with physical law that light travels in straight line.  When some of the rays reflected from a bright subject pass through a pinhole, the rays do not scatter but reform to reflect an upside down image of the subject the rays were reflected from.  I wish now that I had paid attention to physics class! 🙂

The Greenwich camera obscura uses lens for a larger image projection.

Cutty Sark, British Clipper Ship

Cutty Sark, British Clipper Ship

Cutty Sark in its heyday was the fastest ship because of hull shape and vast sail area.  It sailed for more than 957,991 nautical miles which is equivalent to going to the moon and back 2 and a half times. 🙂

Beautifully maintained ship and the information provided were entertaining and interesting. There were a lot of interactive activities and the guides were all friendly and very accommodating. The place is perfect for school children to learn about the life aboard a vessel in the middle of the ocean.

Jean Morton review on Cutty Sark Facebook page

The Cutty Sark was built in Clyde, Scotland in 1869 originally to be a tea clipper, travelling from London to China and back, until the arrival of the even faster steam ships. The Cutty Sark then started carrying wool from Australia to London.

The Cutty Sark continued being used as a training ship until the 1950s.

In 1954, it was permanently lodge in Greenwich, South London, as a public display and museum. It is now a National Historic ship being only one of the three remaining shipping vessel with its original composite construction, where the the wooden hull was framed in iron. Copper was used a great deal in the making of the Cutty Sark. Apparently the copper prevents barnacles attaching themselves to the ship.

Peter, Stacey, Nathan – our intrepid grandson and I enjoyed our tour of the Cutty Sark.  The weather yesterday was perfect to see the ship.  It was bright and glorious.  There were plenty to do and to see.

It was a wonderful piece of history. Long it may be preserved for posterity.

Liverpool, The Port City

Liverpool, The Port City

It was our first time to visit the city of Liverpool last week and I have to say, we totally fell in love with the place. It has so much to offer.

Prior to our mini trip, when we told friends and acquaintances our plan for the trip, they would say “Why Liverpool of all places. It is run down”

Peter would say, “too late now, we booked our hotel and the train tickets.”

I am so pleased that we did not listen. Because Liverpool is a very vibrant city, a lot to do and see. One can take away plenty of experiences and new knowledge.

For a Scouse city, I think it is very English.

Old and new buildings married splendidly, giving birth to a wondrous skyline, beautifully scenic especially when spied from a ferry across the Mersey.

Liverpool is of course the birth place of the ultra iconic The Beatles, of John, George, Paul and Ringo.

We visited the famous underground Cavern Club, where the The Beatles played during their early days.

Liverpool is also known for its majestic churches.  The Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, is an architectural phenomena in its modernity and simplicity in a vast area. It is a Roman Catholic Church, a must see crypt underneath has a gravity defying ceiling made from bricks!!!

On the other hand, the huge Church of England, Liverpool Cathedral is equally awesome.  It has a very spiritual ambiance.  We thought St Albans was so beautiful but Liverpool Cathedral can give it a run for their money.

While we were in Liverpool, the sun tried to break out from the clouds and Peter was quite happy to go on top of the Radio City, which allows anyone to see miles on end in a 360 degrees.  Apparently you can see the Blackpool Tower clearly if the sun was brighter.  I opted out of the privilege to climb the tower because I felt rather queezy after having an enormous Full English breakfast at the Shiraz Palace near the Britannia Adelphi Hotel, where we stayed.

Another thing about Liverpool is the presence of publican houses everywhere, unlike in London.  I think pubs longevity in Liverpool has to do with the prices.  One can get a pint of beer for a couple of quids (pounds). 🙂  The students who board nearby our hotel patronise the many pubs at all hours.

The famed Chinatown in Liverpool was smaller that what I expected compared to Chinatown in London.  Chinatown Liverpool is the first one in the UK.  Some 1500 Chinese were living in Liverpool as far back as the 1600 and some Filipinos in the 1800.  This is because Liverpool is a port, where seafaring immigrants took advantage of.

They have the most fantastic library building in Liverpool Lime Street.  It was modern and huge in four or five floors, very airy.  It makes you wanna sit down with a book, which I did.  I quickly skimmed Jilly Cooper’s Mount, which is the return of Rupert Campbell-Black and Taggie.

Queen Victoria must have loved Liverpool.  Her beloved husband, Prince Albert’s statue is everywhere and places and buildings are named after him.

St George’s Hall along Lime Street is another must see place.  It has an underground Victorian jail which you can tour.  There was a room with drawings and posters by children which is rather unsettling.  Another prison cubicle has a collage of photos of the prisoners, who were murderers, rapists, debtors, fraudsters.  That was really macabre.  What what spooked me was an empty room at first sight but suddenly you feel a presence which was of a statue of a Victorian woman breastfeeding her baby partly hidden next to the doorway.  Spooky.

All in way, I highly recommend a tour of Liverpool.  Add it to your bucket list!

The Life That I Have

Despair, photo by JMorton

The Life That I Have

The Life That I Have (sometimes referred to as Yours) is a short poem written by Leo Marks and used as a poem code in the Second World War.
The life that I have
Is all that I have
And the life that I have
Is yours.
The love that I have
Of the life that I have
Is yours and yours and yours.
A sleep I shall have
A rest I shall have
Yet death will be but a pause.
For the peace of my years
In the long green grass
Will be yours and yours and yours.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Peter told me to add this poem into the blog.  He said I would like it.  He is partly right because I more than like it, I love it.

The poem is about Love Eternal.  It is beyond love every waking moments, its goes on until and after death.  Isn’t that just the most romantic thing ever 🙂 !!!

But romance aside, the poem apparently was used to send code during WWII.  A message is encrypted within the poetry itself.  This short poem was sent by Leo Marks to a French agent, Violette Szabo, who was ultimately captured, tortured and murdered by the Nazi (not because of the poem!).  A film was made about Violette Szabo called Carve Her Name With Pride, where the poem was included but undergone an artistic licence, as Hollywood would often do.  In the film the poem was supposed to have been written for her by her husband, Etienne.

%d bloggers like this: