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A Cooking and Baking Day

Relatives are coming to stay with us on Monday. They stayed with us last year and it really doesn’t seem like a year has passed since then.  If the weather is kind to us, we will undoubtedly go out during the day each day of their stay, and to make life just that bit easier for myself – for I know I shall be tired by 4 pm each day and will not wish to embark on creating a supper dish from scratch – I’ve done some preparation, i.e. prepared food for next week which I can pop into the freezer and bring out as and when required.

First of all, I made a beef casserole.  This is a standby dish, perhaps one we might use ourselves at the weekend as I would prefer to cook a pork, apple & cider casserole for our guests, but I had the diced beef in the fridge and so have used it.  Just different veggies, beef, stock, a splash or port, and seasonings.  This will ‘mature’ overnight in the fridge and it will be our supper for tomorrow or Sunday (I have already made a lasagne for next week and that is already in the freezer.)

Next, I made a nut roast.  Husband and I both enjoy this, it is very nourishing and contains no meat or even meat extract.  Here you can see some of the ingredients I will be using, the nuts ‘toasting’ in a large frying pan before I grind them, and the finished product, cooling.

Next, I made a leek & potato soup, sufficient for six portions, so husband and I might have some for our supper this evening and the rest will be popped into a box and put in the freezer.  Above, it is at the almost-ready stage.  Once it has cooked and cooled, I add some low-fat double cream, so it’s really a cream of leek & potato soup.

Next, I made an all-in-one fruit loaf (by all-in-one I mean that all the ingredients are put into the mixing bowl and mixed together, none of this creaming, adding, etc) which is on the right, and a banana and walnut loaf which is on the left.  We shan’t need all these cakes, but it’s nice to have some cakes in the freezer – both of these can be served plain, or buttered, or with custard (or cream) as a dessert.

After all that cooking and baking, I did a pile of ironing – but before I could do it, I had to borrow our daughter in law’s iron as ours has died, and it’s only two years old and not a cheapie, either.  But I expect two years’ work is about all an iron today can manage!  Things are no longer made to last.

But on a less gloomy note, I recently took out a subscription to House & Garden and the first copy arrived this morning. I’ve not yet opened it. I’m saving that until this evening when I an sit and enjoy this little indulgence.

But first, I must find room in our small freezer for the results of today’s productivity!  I do enjoy a day devoted to cooking and baking.

Later …

Not long after I published my latest post, above, there was a knock at the door … it was a dear friend. She doesn’t use a computer and as she keeps poor health I write to her each month – she says my letters cheer her up.  I was really humbled as she had brought me a lovely Art Deco style shopping bag and also a container with some mauve and crimson cyclamen.  How kind some people are, and this friend is one of the kindest of them all.

Until next time.

About Margaret Powling

Margaret Powling
Margaret’s main interests are her husband and family, her friends, her home, her garden, writing, literature, architecture, décor, social history, photography, historic houses and gardens, and towns, villages and the countryside. She writes about the things she enjoys: flowers, scent, fine soap, monthly style magazines, and other such small indulgences, such as afternoon tea or simply enjoying her summerhouse with a book. She invites you to enjoy this virtual visit to South Devon, England.

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  1. simpleliving31.blogspot.co.uk

    Your guests will love their stay I’m sure and being prepared is a must, so you don’t have to be in the kitchen all the time. I had a couple of small bottles of port which were in with some cheeses I bought cheaply after Christmas last year and I did’t even think of adding to a casserole but I will do now.
    I always do cakes the all in one method, makes life so much easier.
    What wonderful gifts from your friend, that bag is just gorgeous. Hope you get chance to rest and relax a bit over the weekend before your guest arrive.

    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, I prefer to use port rather than sherry in various dishes, Marlene, it’s less acidic (to me, anyway.) Yes, the all-in-one method for cakes works a treat, doesn’t it. This is a very old recipe (I am sure I’ve posted it before now) from the early 1970s but it’s simple and tasty. I’ve managed to cram it all into our three-drawer freezer, too.
      As well as the lovely plants and the shopping bag, my friend also gave me a book of 6 first class stamps as she said I’d spent a fortune on stamps, writing to her each month. I really felt quite humbled, that she brought me so many lovely things.
      Tomorrow we are having lunch at elder son’s house as it’s his birthday, he doesn’t know this yet (I mean he knows it’s his birthday but not the lunch) and younger son and partner are coming, too. I still have lots of housework to do, and the last of the food shopping, but the supermarket is only a mile down the road, so that will be easy (I hope!)
      I bought two bunches of gladioli this week but the buds haven’t opened. They are dying on the stems. Perhaps they’re past their season now. I will have to get other flowers as I can’t have the house without flowers when our guests arrive. But I intend to relax a bit on Sunday afternoon. Now I’m off to watch Mastermind and then read my new magazine.

  2. fantastic cooking day, Margaret. Inspiring. All of the thoughtful touches and preparation that you do for guests, are so lovely.

    • Margaret Powling

      Thank you, Ratnamurti. It’s fun preparing for guests, but I do this forward-planning re meals as I know I shall be tired after going out with our guests and it’ll be nice only to re-heat things, and then boil a few potatoes and perhaps steam some veg.

  3. What a lovely planting you were given. You are so thoughtful to write to your friend like you do and how kind of her to treat you back and show her appreciation. I am so impressed with your preparations for your upcoming company. I need to take a lesson as when I have guests I’m not nearly as well prepared. Have a lovely weekend.

    • Margaret Powling

      My friend is a lovely person, Jeannine; she has had fibromyalgia (a name which doctors have given to a condition which they really know little about, which causes a lot of muscle pain) for about three years. She used to be our neighbour and moved away several years ago with her husband and family, but when I heard she was ill I wrote to her and she said how my letter brought a smile to her face. Therefore I just continued to write a monthly letter. It is rather subjective as I know little about what is happening in her life other than she is struggling, but if she enjoys my witterings, then that’s the least I can do. I never expected such lovely presents from her, and as well as the planting and the bag, she gave me a book of first class stamps, too. So very kind of her and much appreciated.
      We seldom have guests to stay, not because we don’t like people, but as we’re a small family there are few people who actually need to come and stay in order to see us, and friends are mainly local, too.

      • Small family here as well and we don’t have guests to stay often either. When we do, I’m not nearly as prepared as you!

        • Margaret Powling

          Sadly, Jeannine, we learned late this afternoon that our relations won’t be coming next week as one of them is unwell. We will rearrange for another time, perhaps later in the year or even in the spring. As it happens, I’ve not been very well myself since yesterday, so perhaps this was fortuitous all round, as one wants to be firing on all cylinders when guests come to stay.

  4. Gosh you have been busy baking and preparing for your visitors Margaret but isn’t there something so satisfying in knowing that you have plenty of good food in your freezer ready for your loved ones. That was a very thoughtful gesture by your friend, the letters obviously mean a lot to her.
    It’s turned a wee bit colder here in East Anglia after several days of milder weather, my winter prepping is going well with the house deep cleaned and the larder filling up, guess it must be down to a deep rooted need to hibernate!
    Enjoy your family meal and weekend.

    • Margaret Powling

      Yes, the freezer is bulging at the seams, Elaine! Of course, we mightn’t eat all this – our visitors have informed us they have very small appetites but the things are there if we need them.
      It’s colder here today, in Torbay, too, but perhaps not as cold as where you are in the east of the country.

  5. I’m sorry to read that your family won’t be coming to visit, especially after you were looking forward to them coming, but when you’re not well and not up to travelling, there’s no place like home (and your own bed). The food you prepared all looked lovely and I was very impressed that you made it all and found home for it all in your freezer 🙂 I, too, love food that can be cooked at anytime and eaten later – and even better as leftovers – and made a very large tray of lasagne which will make about 6-8 servings, depending on the size of the servings. I use 0.5kg beef mince (‘ground beef’ in USA), 400g tin of untrained brown lentils, grated carrot, grated zucchini, chopped mushrooms, garlic, onion and tomato passata sauce. It’s something I’ve adapted from what was a beautiful recipe for vegetarian lasagne I made on a few occasions for vegetarian friends but then added the beef mince to the recipe for our household as I was anaemic on and off for many years and needed the iron. With a fresh side salad it is a yummy dinner and one of my husband’s favourites 🙂

    I echo the other comments about what a lovely thing it is for you to write letters to your friend each month. Her gifts are beautiful and a lovely gesture of her appreciation.

    We had a long weekend here in my part of Australia, with Monday being a public holiday (I think you call them Bank Holiday). Temperatures were in the low 30s (that’s degC) with high humidity for several days until a change came through and today was 18 deg C. Along with some much needed rain overnight it brought welcome relief 🙂

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Your lasagne sounds lovely, Lara. I will have to jot those ingredients down and use them next time, I think. That would make a lovely lot of two-person portions of lasagne for us.
      Thank you, also, for your kind comment re my writing a monthly letter to my ex-neighbour and friend.
      The low 30Cs would be hot to us! About 18C is perfect for us!

  6. That should be ‘undrained brown lentils’, not ‘untrained’ !!! Spell check strikes again.
    I have images of hundreds of lentils running amok in my kitchen ha ha.

  7. Eloise (thisissixty.blog)

    I love a ‘cooking day’. Sometimes I plan and dishes will be a mixture of savory quiches, casseroles, various sauces with chicken and a cake or two. Other times I just wake up feeling the need to cook. These occasions are quite fun since I have to be more inventive when using up ingredients.
    It was a shame that your relatives couldn’t come but at least you will have a full freezer – I always like the comforting feeling that that provides.

    • Margaret Powling
      Margaret Powling

      Hello, Eloise! I was going to cook this afternoon, but after a trip to the surgery for my flu jab, then to Waitrose, then to the garden centre (again!) I’ve been lolling on the sofa with a book instead of sweating over a hot stove! It’s good to use up ingredients, and fun to think how best to use them! An exercise in brain as well as culinary skills!

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